MONTPELIER, Vt. — PRESS RELEASE — A bill to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use in Vermont passed on second reading in the state Senate Thursday with a veto-proof majority (23-5). It will receive one more vote in the Senate, which is expected tomorrow, before heading to the House of Representatives for consideration.
S. 54, sponsored by 15 of the state's 30 senators, would create a system of regulated marijuana production and sales for adult use in Vermont. Retail sales would be subject to a 10-percent tax, and municipalities could establish a 1-percent local option tax if they host a retailer. Under the proposal, oversight of the medical cannabis program would be shifted from the Department of Safety to a new independent commission beginning Jan. 1, 2021. It would also change the word “marijuana” to “cannabis” throughout state statutes. A detailed summary of S. 54 is available here.
Laws regulating and taxing cannabis for adult use have been enacted in nine states and the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands. Vermont and D.C. are the only two U.S. jurisdictions where cannabis is legal but not regulated for adult use.
Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which is leading a coalition in support of the legislation, said, "We applaud the Senate for its overwhelming approval of this commonsense legislation. We hope members of the House will agree that regulating and taxing cannabis is in Vermont's best interest. Most importantly, this legislation will make the state safer by creating a safe and legal market through which adults can access cannabis products. It will also have the added benefit of generating new tax revenue for the state, as well as local governments.
"Cannabis is legal for adults in Vermont, and it's time for it to be treated like other products that are legal for adults. That means regulating its production and sale to address public health and safety concerns and keep it out of the hands of minors. While some adults would prefer to grow their own cannabis, many would prefer to access it safely and legally from licensed stores. They should have the choice, and that is what this bill will provide."