Bill delivered to governor’s desk, coalition responds to concerns

On May 18, 2017, Vermont’s marijuana legalization bill, S.22, was delivered to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott. He now has five days (excluding Sunday) to either sign it or veto it. If he does neither, it will become law without his signature.

The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana submitted several documents to Gov. Scott’s office in response to his stated concerns about the bill. Those documents are available here:

Cover letter from coalition director Laura Subin to Gov. Scott

Responses to Gov. Scott’s concerns

Teen Marijuana Use Does Not Increase Following Marijuana Policy Reforms

No Evidence That Legal Marijuana Increases Traffic Fatalities

Access to Marijuana Can Help Fight the Opioid Epidemic

Addison Independent editorial: “A very savvy bill Gov. Scott can sign”

Please call Gov. Scott’s office at (802) 828-3333 (or email him) and ask him to sign this reasonable legislation into law. Tell him it’s time to stop punishing responsible adult marijuana consumers!

A summary of the bill is available here.

 

Four Vt. Newspapers Say Gov. Scott Should Sign Legalization Bill!

On May 10, 2017, the Vermont House of Representatives made history when it voted to approve the Senate’s amendment to S. 22 and sent the bill to Gov. Phil Scott’s desk.

As amended, the bill would eliminate penalties for adults’ possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, two or fewer mature plants, and four or fewer immature plants, effective on July 1, 2018. S. 22 would also create a study commission to craft legislation on how to best regulate and tax marijuana in Vermont. The commission’s bill would have to be drafted in time for the beginning of next year’s legislative session.

If you live in Vermont, please call Gov. Scott’s office today and urge him to sign S. 22.

Since the House vote, the editorial boards of four Vermont newspapers have endorsed S. 22:

The Burlington Free Press wrote that “S. 22 puts Vermont on the right path” and said Gov. Scott “should sign the bill.

The Bennington Banner expressed its surprise that the bill was heading to the governor’s desk and wrote, hopefully, that “Perhaps the governor will surprise us as well.” 

The Addison County Independent described S. 22 as “brilliant” and “a very savvy bill Gov. Scott can sign.”

Last but not least, The Rutland Herald expressed its support for the legislative compromise and wrote that “For Scott to veto the bill would be a needless thumb in the eye of the Legislature.”

 

House and Senate vote to end prohibition!

The Vermont House and Senate have both passed bills in 2017 that would legalize possession and limited cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 and older.

On April 21, the Senate voted 21-9 to amend a House-passed bill (H. 167) to include language of a comprehensive legalization and regulation bill.

S. 170, which passed the House May 3 in a 75-71 vote, would simply eliminate penalties for adults’ possession and cultivation of a limited amount of cannabis. In an attempt to compromise with the House, the Senate amended another bill, S. 22, to include the language of H. 170 as well as a study commission to consider regulation and taxation. The Senate passed S. 22 back to the House on May 5. Adjournment is expected within days, so the House will need to concur with the Senate on S. 22 soon if it’s going to reach the governor’s desk this year.

Click here to see how your representatives voted on H. 170 and follow up with a quick phone call.

House Judiciary Committee votes to make marijuana legal for adults’ use!

On March 22, the Vermont House Judiciary Committee voted 8-3 to make marijuana legal for adults’ use. The bill, H. 170, would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, and it would eliminate penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. Penalties for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana would also be reduced.

A full House vote is expected soon. Please call and/or email your representatives today!

Marijuana policy on the ballot in Vermont?

Many Vermonters say they want to vote on marijuana legalization. In this recent commentary at VTDigger.org, the Marijuana Policy Project’s Matt Simon explains why changing laws by ballot initiative isn’t an option in Vermont. On the bright side, voters are still ultimately responsible for determining the state’s future on marijuana policy, and there are many contrasts to be found in MPP’s Vermont voter guide.

New grassroots coordinators begin working to strengthen our coalition!

We are pleased to announce the addition of two grassroots coordinators to our team. Burlington resident Matthew Tolley (Matthew@RegulateVermont.org) will serve as northern Vermont grassroots coordinator, and Grafton resident Ed Bank (Ed@RegulateVermont.org) will serve in the same role for southern Vermont. You can check out their bios here.

Matthew and Ed will be working hard in the coming weeks and months to expand our coalition and maintain a presence at events all over the state. They would greatly appreciate your help and support, so please contact the coordinator for your area and let them know if you are available and interested in being contacted about volunteer opportunities. Ed will be the point person for Bennington, Orange, Rutland, Windham, and Windsor counties; Matthew will be the point person for all other counties.

Here’s Matthew Tolley on his first day of work, collecting email addresses from legalization supporters at a rally for the Johnson/Weld campaign in Burlington!

Tolley at Johnson Weld rally

Vermont Marijuana Regulation Bill Receives Final Approval in Senate, Heads to House

Vermont Senate Gives Final Approval to Bill That Would Regulate Marijuana for Adult Use; Measure Advances to the House of Representatives 

House members will begin working on S. 241, which would end marijuana prohibition in Vermont, after they return from Town Meeting Week

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Senate gave final approval to a bill Thursday(17-12) that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use. S. 241 received initial Senate approval on Wednesday. It will now advance to the House of Representatives, which will begin working on it after members return from Town Meeting Week.

“We applaud the Senate for advancing this important legislation,” said Matt Simon, the Montpelier-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Like most Vermonters, most members of the Senate recognize that prohibition is a failed policy. They voted to regulate marijuana because it will make our communities safer.

“We are confident that House members who take an objective look at the evidence will arrive at the same conclusion as their colleagues in the Senate,” Simon said. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society. We should be regulating it and controlling it, not forcing it into the underground market.”

S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible marijuana products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill. It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. If approved, rulemaking would begin this summer, but the new law would not take effect until January 2018.

A group of more than a dozen local clergy and faith leaders from across Vermont sent a letter to members of the Senate on Tuesday encouraging them to support S. 241. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and two former attorneys general, Jerome Diamond and Kimberly Cheney, sent a similar letter to legislators last week.

On Monday, Vermont Public Radio released the results of a poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute that found 55% of Vermonters support passing a law to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Only 32% said they are opposed.