Vermont Senate Approves Deal on Legislation to Tax and Regulate Cannabis Sales
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Vermont Senate Approves Deal on Legislation to Tax and Regulate Cannabis Sales

The Senate's vote sends the bill to Gov. Phil Scott for consideration.

September 23, 2020

The Vermont Senate voted Sept. 22 to approve a deal on legislation that would tax and regulate cannabis sales in the state, according to a Seven Days report.

The House and Senate agreed on a compromise proposal earlier this month that would create a legal cannabis market, and the House approved the legislative conference committee report last week in a 92-56 vote.

The Senate’s 23-6 vote to accept the report sends the final bill to Gov. Phil Scott for consideration, Seven Days reported.

Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington) said the legislation is a good compromise that he hopes Scott will sign into law, according to the news outlet.

“I would be surprised if he didn’t, quite frankly,” Sears said. “In many cases, the conference committee kept his positions in mind.”

Scott’s concerns about legal cannabis sales have centered on youth drug prevention and traffic safety, Seven Days reported, as well as how towns would be able to control cannabis businesses within their jurisdictions. Scott has also advocated for police officers’ use of saliva tests to check for impaired drivers.

The bill landing on his desk would allow law enforcement to use saliva tests, with a warrant, according to Seven Days, and would dedicate some of the tax revenue generated from cannabis sales to youth and drug prevention programs. Another provision of the bill would require Vermont’s municipalities to “opt in” to hosting cannabis businesses, the news outlet reported.

Scott said at a Sept. 18 press conference that lawmakers have addressed many of his concerns about a legal cannabis marketplace and have “come a long ways” in creating a bill to allow legal sales, according to a VTDigger report.

The Senate also voted Sept. 22 to approve another piece of legislation, S.234, which would expand cannabis-related expungements in the state, Seven Days reported. The House voted Sept. 11 to approve the bill, which would create an automatic expungement process for convictions involving the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and up to four mature and eight immature plants.