Vermont House Judiciary Hearings on Marijuana Bill to Begin This Week


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The Vermont House Judiciary Committee will begin holding hearings this week on H. 170, a bill that would legalize possession and limited home cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and older. This bill is sponsored by the committee’s chairman, vice-chair, and ranking Republican, and its prospects appear to be bright: Vermont Public Radio reported on Friday that the House “appears more receptive” to legalization in 2017, and Governor Phil Scott is “willing to consider the House plan.”

Although this bill would not legalize and regulate marijuana sales in Vermont, it still represents a very significant development.

Last week, Maine became the second New England state — following Massachusetts — where adults are no longer punished for possessing small amounts of marijuana or a limited number of plants. Now that marijuana is legal in two other New England states, there is no reason whatsoever for Vermont to continue punishing adults for choosing to use a substance that is less harmful than alcohol.

If you are a Vermont resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them to support this sensible legislation.

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University of Vermont to Host Public Forum on Marijuana Policy


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Legislative leaders in Montpelier are describing last week’s victory in Massachusetts as a “game changer” for Vermont. This week, Sen. Dick Sears, chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, told a VPR reporter, “For me, that’s a game-changer, that Massachusetts has voted to legalize. Rep. Maxine Grad, chair of the equally powerful House Judiciary Committee, agreed and said she thought the House would be much more amenable to ending marijuana prohibition now that legalization is definitely coming to a neighboring state.university_of_vermont
It is critical that we continue building momentum for legalization and regulation. We had a very successful event this week, and we’re looking forward to another great event called “Cannabis on Campus” on Thursday, Dec. 1, at the University of Vermont. Here are the details:
WHAT: Cannabis on Campus: The Implications of Reform in Vermont and Beyond
(This event is free and open to the public.)
WHO: Hosted by the Community Development and Applied Economics Department at UVM in partnership with Heady Vermont. Program includes presentations on medical cannabis and hemp, and a debate between MPP’s Matt Simon and SAM-VT’s Margo Austin about legalization and regulation for adult use.
WHEN: Thursday, December 1
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Dudley H. Davis Student Center
University of Vermont
590 Main St.
Burlington, VT 05405
Please forward this message to your friends and family. If you use Facebook, please RSVP and share the event page.
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Election Day Voter Guides


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Today is the day! This is the biggest election in marijuana policy reform history, but even if you can’t vote on a legalization or medical marijuana ballot initiative today, you could play an important part to make future progress possible in your state.logo-mpp-286-mpp-and-we-change-laws

Before you vote, please check out MPP’s voter guides if you live in the following places:

Delaware

District of Columbia

Illinois

Nebraska

New Hampshire

Pennsylvania

South Carolina

Vermont

And don’t forget to tell your friends in Arizona, Arkansas, California, FloridaMaine, Massachusetts, MontanaNevada, and North Dakota to vote YES on their respective marijuana initiatives!

 

 

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Vermont Governor Signs Bill Expanding Medical Marijuana Access


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The Vermont medical marijuana program took an important step forward today when Gov. Peter Shumlin signed S. 14, a bill that will make it possible for more patients to qualify for the medical marijuana program.

Gov. Peter Shumlin. VTD/Josh Larkin
Gov. Peter Shumlin. VTD/Josh Larkin

“At a time when opiate addiction is ravaging our state and drug companies continue to urge our doctors to pass out painkillers like candy, we need to find a more practical solution to pain management,” Shumlin said in a statement.

Specifically, the bill reduces the threshold for a pain diagnosis from “severe pain” to “chronic pain.” It also adds glaucoma as a qualifying condition, and it reduces the required provider-patient relationship from six months to three months. A summary of these changes and others made by S. 14 is available here.

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Vermont House Committee Revives Marijuana Bill


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Last week, some observers appeared to give up on Vermont legalization bill S. 241 after it was gutted by the House Judiciary Committee. Not so fast! Today, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to amend S. 241 and restore core legalization provisions. 2000px-Vermont_state_seal.svgThe bill would not only legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older, but it would also allow personal cultivation of up to two plants. Next, the bill is expected to be considered by the Appropriations Committee.

In order to legally cultivate two plants, a person would be required to purchase a permit from the Department of Health for $125. Permits would be good for one year, and information on permit-holders would have to be kept confidential by the department (no fishing expeditions by law enforcement would be allowed).

We will continue advocating for a regulated market approach, but we are very pleased with this development, and we will continue to push for improvements as the process continues.

If you are a Vermont resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them to support this measure.

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Vermont Senate Approves Marijuana Regulation Bill


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Today, the Vermont senators who support ending marijuana prohibition stepped onto the Senate floor knowing they would face a contentious debate from their prohibitionist colleagues. After much discussion, the champions of reasonable regulation narrowly prevailed when the Senate voted 16-13 to approve S. 241!

However, S. 241 must survive an additional floor vote before it advances to the House.

If you are a Vermont resident, please send one more message to your senators and let them know how you feel about this historic development! Consider editing the form message to express your own thoughts about how marijuana prohibition has failed Vermont.

In approving S. 241 today, the Senate became only the second legislative chamber in the United States to approve a marijuana legalization bill. (The New Hampshire House of Representatives narrowly passed a similar bill in 2014, but it did not advance.). The fact that it has made it this far is a testament to the strength of our robust Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, your many calls and emails, and the leadership of Gov. Peter Shumlin and legislative leaders.

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Vermont Bill to Make Marijuana Legal for Adults Poised for Full Senate Vote


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Today, the Vermont Senate Appropriations Committee voted 4-3 to approve S. 241, a bill that would end marijuana prohibition for adults and create a regulated and taxed system for marijuana production and sale. The bill has already been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

Next, S. 241 will move to the Senate floor for a vote by the full Senate, which will probably happen later this week. If it passes there, it will go to the House of Representatives, and the committee process will begin anew after the legislature takes a break for Town Meeting Week (February 29 to March 4).

William-Sorrell
Attorney General William Sorrell

Last week, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and two former attorneys general, Jerome Diamond and Kimberly Cheney, sent a letter to legislators encouraging them to move forward with the proposal to end prohibition and regulate marijuana.

Earlier today, Vermont Public Radio released the results of a new poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute that found 55% of Vermonters support passing a law to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Only 32% said they are opposed. The survey of 895 Vermonters was conducted February 3-17.

If you are a Vermont resident, please send them an email urging them to support S. 241.

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Vermont Senate Finance Committee Votes to End Marijuana Prohibition


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On Friday, the Vermont Senate Finance Committee voted 6-1 to approve S. 241, a bill that would end marijuana prohibition for adults and create a regulated and taxed system for marijuana production and sale. Before passing the bill, the Finance Committee adopted a 25% tax rate that would be applied to retail sales. (This is roughly on par with the tax rates in Oregon and Colorado, and it is significantly less than the rate in Washington state).

This bill is still a work in progress. We will continue to update you on new developments as it advances through the committee process.

If you are a Vermont resident, it’s very important that your senators and representatives hear from you today. Please send them an email urging them to support S. 241. If you are able to take a few minutes to personalize your email, that may increase its impact on legislators.

S. 241 will be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee next. A vote by the full Senate is expected within the next couple weeks.

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Connecticut Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Regulate Marijuana for Adults


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Last week, 10 Connecticut state representatives introduced HB 5236, legislation that would legalize the sale and use of marijuana for adults.Seal-of-Connecticut While it is unlikely HB 5236 will pass during this year’s short session, garnering co-sponsors and holding a hearing this year will help build the foundation for passage down the road.

If you are a Connecticut resident and support ending marijuana prohibition in your state, please contact your representative and ask him or her to support HB 5236.

In addition to the four states and Washington D.C. that have already legalized adult use, several of Connecticut’s neighbor states are currently considering legalization including Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

Legalizing marijuana for adults makes the illicit marijuana trade obsolete and would create much-needed revenue to the state during a time of financial hardship. In 2015, Colorado’s system of marijuana regulation brought in over $135 million in revenue for the state.

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Vermont Senate Committee Approves Marijuana Regulation Bill


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VT Coalition logo - SmallThe Vermont Senate Committee on Judiciary approved a bill (4-1) on Friday that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate marijuana for adult use.

S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible marijuana products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill. It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. If approved, rulemaking would begin this summer, but the new law would not take effect until January 2018. The bill will now go to the Senate Committee on Finance for consideration.

VT commercial screenshotThe Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana is working to build support for the bill and keep up the momentum. It recently launched a  television ad, produced by the Marijuana Policy Project, which features former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney. Cheney was also the subject of a series of web ads launched earlier this month.

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