America's recreational business just expanded to 11 states with the addition of Vermont on Wednesday
Vermont Governor Phil Scott has announced that legislation to regulate and tax the sale of cannabis will become law without his signature. This news paves the way for further growth in American industry. Moreover, recognized by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) as a big winner. Especially considering that Vermont is only the second state in the country to legalize consumption through legislation and not through the ballot box. Illinois did it in 2019.
Sales of recreational products in Vermont are not expected to begin until October 2022
Although Vermont legalized the possession and use of recreational marijuana in 2018. Lawmakers at the time refused to allow any framework for the legal production and sale of cannabis for adult use. In September, Vermont lawmakers gave their final approval to Section 54, which picks up where the 2018 law left off.
“The importance of Vermont's decision to legalize and regulate the sale of cannabis cannot be overstated. Particularly in a state with a Republican governor and through the legislative process, ”MPP executive director Steven Hawins said in a press release.
A landmark move that comes as other state legislatures are about to consider legalization
Although Scott refused to sign a bill that establishes a formal framework for the production and sale of recreational cannabis, he nonetheless allowed the measure to become non-veto law. In a letter to the president of the state Senate, he wrote that Vermont lawmakers still have work to do.
Scott said he refused to sign the bill because it did not address his multiple concerns, including
- An “unfair playing field”, which he says “will disproportionately benefit Vermont's existing dispensaries
- The authorization of vaporization products is not convinced that vaporization is a threat to public health.
- Adding more stringent marketing bans to ensure cannabis is not attractive to minors.
- An “aggressive” schedule for the appointment of members of the Cannabis Control Board by January 8, 2021.
- Increase funding and training for law enforcement.
- Dealing with a possible increase in the number of impaired drivers.
Vermont becomes eleventh state to legalize the sale of marijuana to adults
Carly Wolf, NORML State Policy Coordinator, declared : “Ten of the eleven states that have legalized adult possession of marijuana have also wisely regulated the retail cannabis market; until today, Vermont was the only exception.
“This comprehensive legislation was debated and amended over a period of several months by members of both chambers. She is supported by a majority of voters in Vermont. Senate Bill 54 represents an opportunity to bring common sense controls to the adult marijuana market. Currently unregulated, unauthorized and untaxed. While the law is not perfect, we are confident that lawmakers will continue to amend these proposed rules and regulations accordingly. By prioritizing public safety as well as the needs of entrepreneurs looking to enter this space. This is a victory for those who wish to disrupt the illicit market and move forward with a regulated and aboveground cannabis market ”.
Bill 54 establishes the rules and tax rates governing the licensed commercial production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products to adults. According to this plan:
- Retail products will be subject to a tax of 14%. In addition to the state's 6% general sales tax.
- The potency of cannabis products will be capped at 30% THC.
- Concentrates will be limited to a maximum of 60% THC.
- Products will not be able to be packaged in a way that appeals to children.
- Before authorizing the operation of a cannabis production facility, a municipality must vote in favor of authorizing commercial activities in its locality.
It was also reported that the governor today signed separate legislation. Senate Bill 234, which facilitates the automatic review and revocation of convictions for low-level marijuana possession. This law takes effect January 1, 2021. This measure is expected to erase the criminal records of more than 10 people convicted of possession of two ounces or less of marijuana. Separate provisions in the bill reduce penalties for offenses involving possession of more than one ounce but less than two ounces of marijuana and / or growing three plants to a civil fine.
The summary of the bill by the MPP can be viewed here.