Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Bill to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

vermontIn a decisive 4 to 1 vote, the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill today that would end cannabis prohibition in the state and regulate the plant for adult personal use.

Senate Bill 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and would establish a tightly controlled system of licensed cannabis cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible cannabis products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill.

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Vermont Governor Announces Support for Legalizing Recreational Cannabis

shumlin
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin.

At today’s State of the State address, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin came out in full support of legalizing recreational cannabis.

“The outdated War on Drugs has also failed, and there is no greater example than our nation’s marijuana laws”, said Shumlin. “That’s why Vermont took steps to change our criminal penalties and to institute a well-regulated medical marijuana system that now serves 2,400 Vermonters. This careful approach shows that we know how to regulate marijuana thoughtfully and cautiously, avoiding the pitfalls that have caused other states to stumble where Vermont succeeded. But the black market of drug dealers selling marijuana for recreational use is alive and well, serving over 80,000 Vermonters who reported using marijuana last year.”

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Vermont House Speaker Announces Support for Legalizing Cannabis

Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith.
Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith.

Vermont Speaker of the House Shap Smith has announced that he’s in favor of moving forward legislation to legalize recreational cannabis.

“It’s clear to me in my discussions with Vermonters that in general, the people in this state probably favor legalization,” Smith said on VPR’s Vermont Edition. “And I certainly believe that we can legalize marijuana if we do it right … we’ve seen what has happened in Colorado and Washington, and we can learn from their experiences.”

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Vermont Governor Signs Bill Allowing Expungement of Cannabis Offenses

cannabisisnotpotVermont Governor Peter Shumlin (D) has signed Senate Bill 115 into law, allowing those convicted of possessing up to an ounce of cannabis prior to 2013 to have the charge removed from their record.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Joe Benning (R-Lyndonville), allows Vermont residents who were convicted of crimes that are “no longer prohibited by law or designated as a criminal offense” to apply to have the charges expunged (removed) from their records.

In 2013, lawmakers decriminalized the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, meaning anyone convicted of such a crime before the law took effect can now have the charge expunged from their criminal record, meaning it would no longer appear in a background check.

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Companion Bills to Legalize Cannabis to be Filed this Week in Vermont

Legislation tovermont legalize the recreational use and distribution of cannabis will be introduced tomorrow in Vermont’s Senate by Senator David Zuckerman. A companion bill will be filed in the House of Representatives later in the week by Representative Chris Pearson.

Both bills would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, and would establish a system of licensed cannabis retail outlets and cannabis lounges. Retail outlets would be authorized to sell up to an ounce of cannabis to Vermont residents aged 21 and older, and up to a quarter ounce to tourists visiting the state. Cannabis would be taxed at $40 an ounce.

Read moreCompanion Bills to Legalize Cannabis to be Filed this Week in Vermont