The Vermont Senate Committee on Appropriations approved a bill (4-3) today that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate marijuana for adult use. It is now expected to receive a full Senate vote.
“The Senate has worked diligently and deliberately on this legislation,” said Matt Simon, the Montpelier-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most Vermonters believe it’s time to end prohibition and regulate marijuana, and it appears most of their state senators agree. We are hopeful that the Senate will approve this commonsense legislation and send it over to the House for its consideration.”
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.
Last week, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and two former attorneys general, Jerome Diamond and Kimberly Cheney, sent a letter to legislators encouraging them to move forward with the proposal to end prohibition and regulate marijuana.
“Instead of subsidizing gangs and cartels with a failed prohibition policy, we believe Vermont should focus on reducing the harms associated with marijuana and other drug use through prevention, education, treatment and smart enforcement strategies,” the letter said. “We strongly believe that these goals can best be achieved through regulation, not prohibition.”
Earlier today, Vermont Public Radio released the results of a new 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. The survey of 895 Vermonters was conducted February 3-17.