Vermont Legislative Panel Agrees On Cannabis Retail Sales Bill

Cannabis retail is getting closer to becoming a reality in Vermont.
Vermont Legislative Panel Agrees On Cannabis Retail Sales Bill

A Vermont legislative committee came to an agreement this week on a compromise bill that would legalize the commercial production and retail sales of cannabis in the state. The compromise reached by members of both the Vermont House of Representatives and the state Senate also establishes a framework for levying and collecting taxes on cannabis sales.

“It’s not perfect,” said state Sen. Dick Sears, a Democrat who led the Senate’s delegation to the bicameral conference committee. “There’s a lot of compromise, a lot of give and take on both sides to get to a place where we could reach agreement.”

In 2018, Vermont legalized the personal possession and cultivation of cannabis for adults, but failed to pass legislation authorizing taxation, commercial production, and retail sales.

Last year, the Vermont Senate passed Senate Bill 54 (S. 54) to establish that regulatory framework and create a path for a legal cannabis industry in the state. In February, the House of Representatives approved an amended version of the bill.

The following month, a conference committee was assigned to address the differences in the House and Senate versions of the measure. A key sticking point in the committee’s negotiations was a provision in the House version of the bill that would have banned advertising for cannabis-related businesses. The three members of the conference committee from the House agreed to drop the ban on advertising and support language that directs state cannabis regulators to consult with the Attorney General and the Department of Health to establish advertising standards for the industry.

“The proposal shall reflect the General Assembly’s priorities of not promoting cannabis use, limiting exposure of cannabis advertising to persons under 21 years of age, and ensuring consumer protection and public safety,” the compromise language reads.

Agreement On Taxes Reached

The compromise bill also drops a provision from the Senate version that would have shared a portion of a 14% tax on cannabis sales established by the measure with local governments that agree to allow cannabis businesses to locate within their jurisdictions. Instead, local governments would receive funds from cannabis license fees.

Carly Wolf, the state policies director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), applauded the work of the conference committee in a statement.

“I commend lawmakers for taking the time to work out the details of this important legislation, and am looking forward to seeing it cross the finish line,” said Wolf. “It’s about time that adults in Vermont get access to marijuana that is safe, convenient, and affordable without feeling like a criminal.”

Before the conference version of the bill, which was finalized by the committee on Tuesday, can become law, it must be approved in its current form by both the Vermont Senate and the House of Representatives. The measure would then have to be signed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott. 

Whether or not Scott will sign the bill is uncertain. He has called for the bill to contain a provision that would allow law enforcement officers to conduct roadside tests of drivers for cannabis use. Instead, the compromise bill allows for saliva testing of suspected impaired drivers only with a warrant.

  1. If there is no other reason for legalization (and their are plenty of reasons FOR legalization that ranges from getting cannabis out of the ‘taboo’ market, which only further appeals to teens, and also fuels the black market. Most cannabis coming out of the black market can contain cut products, but I am not going there).

    MY concern has to do with the immediacy for children with Dravet’s Syndrome and other very severe health conditions that have NO other known treatment that currently exists that is stopping the very severe seizures in Dravet’s case that have been known to create a cascade of seizures ranging from 150–350 a day, almost without ceasing, leading to DEATH. There is nothing that they can give these children that will save them, outside of Marijuana that seem to reduce the number of active seizures down to 1 or 2 a week, when you have been having them happen continuously all day every day. My biggest frustration is to hear from another family who has lost yet again, another child, because they couldn’t get access to Hemp Oil in their area, and the severe sadness it brings to everyone who has someone die when a very viable treatment is available, just maybe not in their area. Not only this is it curing a wide variety of illnesses and is still illegal. I mean in which century we are living in and who is answerable to this injustice???

  2. Very good news to hear. The marijuana industry is growing and the current ratio of consumers has been increased which is because it is proving itself as a pro and wonder in curing many health conditions. Still, now many people have failed to realize how much important medical marijuana is and how it is superior to pharmaceutical drugs . The taxes policies shouldn’t be applied on marijuana. Already because of legalization issue , medical marijuana has not so affordable prices and it benefits only the black market.

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