Vermont Governor Signs Bill Expanding Medical Marijuana Access


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


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


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


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).

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


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


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


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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Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Launches TV Ad Campaign


The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana released a new television ad this week, produced by the Marijuana Policy Project, featuring Vermont’s former top law enforcement official. The ad began airing statewide on Tuesday and will appear on WCAX, CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC through Sunday.

VT commercial screenshot

In the ad, titled “Time to End Prohibition (Again),” former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney points out that “marijuana prohibition has caused a lot of the same problems” as Alcohol Prohibition. The ad ends with Cheney urging viewers to contact their state senators and tell them, “It’s time to end prohibition and start regulating marijuana in Vermont.”

In a news release, MPP’s Montpelier-based New England political director, Matt Simon, said:

“Mr. Cheney decided to appear in this ad for the same reason he served as the state’s top law enforcement official. He cares strongly about the safety and wellbeing of Vermont citizens. 

“There are a lot of current and former law enforcement officials out there who support ending prohibition and regulating marijuana. It’s important that citizens and lawmakers hear from them.”

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Vermont Coalition Launches Ad Campaign with Former State Attorney General


On Tuesday, the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana held a press conference to announce the launch of an ad campaign featuring former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney highlighting the benefits of regulating marijuana.

Cheney served as Vermont attorney general from 1973 to 1975. Previously, he served as an assistant attorney general and was elected Washington County states attorney. He has held a variety of other civic positions and is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

The ads can be viewed here.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Vermont Governor Asks Legislature to End Prohibition


Yesterday, in his state of the state address, Gov. Peter Shumlin asked the Vermont Legislature to develop and pass a marijuana regulation bill in the 2016 session. “I will work with you,” he told legislators, “to craft the right bill that thoughtfully and carefully eliminates the era of prohibition that is currently failing us so miserably.”

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

This is great news, but passage of a marijuana regulation bill is far from being a done deal in Montpelier. Senate committees will begin working out the details very soon, but many legislators remain either opposed or on the fence.

If you are a Vermont resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them you agree with Gov. Shumlin that it’s time to end prohibition.

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