Legalization becomes reality in Vermont


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It’s a big day. July 1, 2018 will go down in Vermont’s history as the day the state officially stopped punishing adults for consuming marijuana.

Residents of Vermont are seeing the fruits of our movement’s tireless efforts to reform harmful and ill-conceived marijuana laws. Adults can now legally possess, consume, and grow limited amounts of marijuana. Read our summary of the law here.

MPP was a primary driving force behind this victory – and we’re currently on the front lines of legalizing marijuana in many other states, too.

Days like these are powerful reminders of what we can achieve together. Many of you have made one-time contributions in the past and others make monthly donations. Thank you. You are part of these victories, too. We are only able to do this work because thousands of allies across the country support our work.

MPP has big plans to continue changing marijuana laws around the country in the next two years. Through the dedicated work of our teams throughout the country, we could see up to eight more states legalize by mid-2020. But what we can achieve is limited by our funding. Our success depends on you.

Together, we are bringing the era of marijuana prohibition to an end. Let’s keep going.

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Two Vermont Counties Will Host Expungement Events in June


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Now that Vermont’s marijuana legalization law is set to take effect on July 1, the state’s attorneys (prosecutors) for two counties have announced that they will host “Expungement Day” clinics in June to assist Vermonters with having their records cleared of misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Volunteers with the Center for Justice Reform at the Vermont Law School will reportedly assist with filling out expungement petitions in Windsor County on June 9 and in Chittenden County on June 12.

WHAT: Windsor County Expungement Clinic
WHERE: Vermont Law School, Oakes Hall Room 012, South Royalton
WHEN: Saturday, June 9, 9 a.m. to noon

WHAT: Chittenden County Expungement Clinic
WHERE: Costello Courthouse, Courtroom 2C, 32 Cherry Street, Burlington
WHEN: Tuesday, June 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Please note that there will likely be a fee required when the petition is filed.

If you have been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession in another Vermont county, you may wish to call and ask what it would take to have your record expunged. You can find phone numbers for all of Vermont’s state’s attorneys’ offices here.

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MPP Continues Making Progress in 2018!


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Here’s a quick run-down of some of the progress MPP has made so far in 2018:

CONGRESS — In March, MPP helped coordinate the congressional advocacy effort that succeeded in renewing the federal policy that prevents Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department from interfering in state medical marijuana programs. This is an extremely important protection for patients and caregivers across the country.

VERMONT — Years of MPP-led advocacy work in the Green Mountain State yielded a major victory in January, when the legislature became the first ever to enact a marijuana legalization law legislatively (as opposed to a ballot initiative). We continue to work in Vermont with the goal of passing a law next year that will allow regulated and taxed sales (the current law only allows possession and home cultivation).

SOUTH CAROLINA — MPP, working with allied patients and loved ones, is maintaining an aggressive push for medical marijuana in the state legislature. Our bill was recently sent to the Senate floor, and we now have majority support in the House, leaving us well-positioned for passage in 2019.

MASSACHUSETTS — After winning the 2016 ballot initiative campaign and defending the law from political interference in 2017, we have remained engaged in the year-long implementation process in the Bay State. MPP has also been pushing back against local marijuana business bans. As a result of MPP’s work in Massachusetts, the licensing process for marijuana businesses just started, and the first adult-use marijuana stores in New England will open later this year.

CONNECTICUT — Since last year, MPP has led the advocacy effort to legalize and regulate marijuana in Connecticut. Last Thursday, for the first time ever, a committee approved a legalization bill, sending it to the full House.

MPP is also playing a leading role in two ballot initiative campaigns:

MICHIGAN — The Michigan marijuana legalization campaign is leading in the polls, but might face a well-funded opposition campaign. You can donate directly to the Michigan campaign here.

UTAH — The Utah medical marijuana campaign is supported by over 70% of Utah voters, but still needs to finish its signature drive. You can donate directly to the Utah campaign here.

There is no shortage of work ahead in 2018 but, with your support, MPP can and will continue to win. Thank you for your commitment to the Marijuana Policy Project mission.

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After Legalizing Possession, Some Vermont Lawmakers Moving to Regulate Marijuana


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Passage of Vermont’s legalization bill, H. 511, was a huge step forward for the state — and the nation. Now that Gov. Scott has signed this bill allowing personal possession and cultivation, effective on July 1, it’s time for the legislature to begin moving forward with plans to regulate and tax marijuana production and sale for adults 21 and older.

Some legislators who voted NO on H. 511 have already said that they support regulating and taxing marijuana. Others are reconsidering their positions now that it’s clear that marijuana will soon become legal. A bill on this issue, H. 490, is still active in the House after being carried over from last year.

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Vermont Becomes First State to Make Marijuana Legal Through Its Legislature


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Until today, all eight of the states that have made marijuana legal for adults did so through ballot initiatives. Over the past three elections in 2012, 2014, and 2016, voters in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada (and Washington, D.C.) approved ballot questions to legalize marijuana.

Today, we reached an important milestone in Vermont: a state legislature has enacted a law, signed by the governor, that legalizes possession and home cultivation of marijuana for adults aged 21 and older. H. 511 eliminates Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and removes penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants for people 21 and older, beginning on July 1.

“After more than 15 years of hard work by MPP and our allies in the state, adults in Vermont no longer need to fear being fined or criminalized for low-level marijuana possession and cultivation,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a press release. “This is a great step forward for the state and the whole region. Responsible adults will soon have the freedom to enjoy a safer option legally, and law enforcement will be free to concentrate on serious crimes with actual victims. We are looking forward to working with lawmakers and state leaders to continue improving marijuana laws in the Green Mountain State.”

Our coalition’s goal, this year or next, is to enact a law that regulates marijuana and allows for its legal sale (the newly enacted law only allows possession and home cultivation).

 

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MPP Releases 2018 Strategic Plan


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MPP is excited to be moving into 2018 at a time when marijuana policy reform has unprecedented momentum. While there are sure to be challenges ahead, MPP is confident that we will make great strides this year.

You can find the strategic plan here.

In a great sign of things to come, one of our goals is already on the verge of success. On Thursday, the Vermont legislature passed a bill that would make possession and limited home cultivation legal in the Green Mountain State! The bill is expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks.

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Vermont Poised to Become the Ninth State to Make Marijuana Legal for Adults


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Vermont is about to make history!

A bill that would make marijuana legal for adults received final approval on Wednesday from the Vermont Senate and will soon make its way to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott, who vetoed a similar bill in 2017.

Gov. Scott indicated again after passage that he intends to sign H. 511 into law.

H. 511 would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and remove penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants, beginning in July.

Vermont is poised to become the ninth state to make marijuana legal for adults and the first to do so through its legislature. Eight other states have enacted laws legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use, all through ballot initiatives. In Washington, D.C., voters approved a ballot initiative making personal possession and home cultivation legal for adults 21 and older.

The legislature approved H. 511 just days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the removal of guidelines that urged federal prosecutors to avoid targeting marijuana businesses and individuals who are in compliance with state law.

The Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island legislatures are expected to seriously consider making marijuana legal for adults this year as well, and the New Hampshire House approved a similar measure on Tuesday.

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Vermont House Approves Bill to Make Marijuana Legal for Adults


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Today, the Vermont House passed H. 511 in a 81-63 vote. Gov. Phil Scott has already pledged that he will sign the bill after it passes one more procedural vote in the Senate.

H. 511 would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and remove penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants, beginning in July. Meanwhile, a governor-appointed task force will issue a final report on how the state should tax and regulate marijuana sales and commercial cultivation by December 15, 2018.

If you are available next Tuesday, January 9, that would be a great day to visit the State House. Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and allied reform organizations will participate in “a full day of press, advocacy and education” beginning at 10 a.m. in Room 10 of the State House. For more details, and to RSVP, check out the Facebook event page.

Tuesday may also be the day the Senate passes H. 511.

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Vermont Legalization Compromise Expected to Pass in January


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In recent weeks, legislative leaders and Gov. Phil Scott have reaffirmed that the legalization bill, H. 511, is expected to pass in early January. If that happens, marijuana possession and limited cultivation will become legal for adults 21 and older on July 1, 2018.

Despite these reassurances, we know that the vote will be close in the House of Representatives, so we are still fighting to earn every vote we can get. Please take a moment to call or email your representatives and urge them to support passage of H. 511.

Earlier this year, the Vermont became the first state to pass a legalization measure through its legislature. Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by Gov. Scott, who opted to create a study commission to examine the issue. If the current measure becomes law, it will be the only legalization bill not passed through a voter initiative.

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Vermont House Votes to Delay Legalization Bill


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Yesterday, the Vermont Senate amended and passed H. 511, a bill that would make marijuana legal in Vermont. Unfortunately, the House rejected an effort to bring the bill up for consideration, and the veto session ended without further action. H. 511 will have to wait until the Legislature reconvenes — either later this year or in January — before it can pass the House and advance to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott.

A group of representatives led by Rep. Don Turner (R-Milton) delayed passage of H. 511 by opposing a vote to suspend rules and consider the bill. The vote to suspend rules — which required three-quarters of members to vote in favor — was 78-63, considerably short of the 107 votes that would have been needed to consider the bill.

If you are a Vermont resident, you can see how your representatives voted and send them a follow-up message.

The House voted to pass a similar bill earlier this year, so there is little question that H. 511 will pass when it is brought to a vote. Unfortunately, this may not be possible until the Legislature reconvenes in January. It’s also possible that the Legislature will hold a special session later this year, and the bill could be considered then.

On the bright side, H, 511 was not scheduled to take effect until July 1, 2018, so this delay may have no impact on the effective date of legalization.

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