Vermont legalizes production and sale of recreational marijuana, expunges low-level cannabis convictions

Woman controls marijuana plants

Proponents of legal marijuana in Vermont are rejoicing as the Green Mountain State has become the 11th U.S. state to legalize the commercial production and sales of marijuana to all adults.

Senate Bill 54 also covers taxation and regulation of marijuana and was passed absent the Governor’s signature. The legislation is being hailed a victory by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

Vermont is the second state to legalize adult-use cannabis through legislation rather than the ballot box. Illinois employed the same tactic in 2019. In 2018, the state legalized the possession and use of recreational marijuana, like Brown’s CBD oil, allowing possession of one ounce for individuals 21 years and older, and IL recreational dispensaries to flourish.

NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said in a statement:

“Ten of the eleven states that have legalized adult-use marijuana possession have also wisely regulated the retail cannabis market; until today, Vermont had been the sole exception… Senate Bill 54 represents an opportunity to bring common-sense controls to the adult-use marijuana marketplace, which is currently unregulated, unlicensed, and untaxed. While the law, as written, is not perfect, we are confident that lawmakers will continue to further amend these proposed rules and regulations accordingly in a manner that both prioritizes public safety as well as the needs of entrepreneurs looking to enter into this space. This is a victory for those who wish to disrupt the illicit marketplace and move forward with an above-ground, regulated cannabis marketplace.”

Some citizens of Vermont are concerned that S.54 is not being pro-active in regard to systemic discrimination of minorities. Legalizing adult use negates having to get a medical marijuana card in Vermont to gain legal, access to CBD & THC products. Hemp based CBD products are available throughout the United States and can be purchased online.

What’s in the Vermont marijuana legalization bill?

Some key points in the new Vermont recreational marijuana bill include”

  • Cannabis herbal products would limit their potency to 30 percent THC.
  • Cannabis concentrates may contain no more than sixty percent THC.
  • The packaging of all products must remain understated and not appealing to children.
  • All municipalities must vote prior to permitting cannabis facilities or commercial operations in the vicinity.
  • After-school programs, such as drug education and prevention will receive thirty percent of the state tax revenue from retail sales.
  • Trained drug-recognition experts will be allowed to testify in court, during driver-impairment cases
  • It will still be illegal to publicly ingest all cannabis products.
  • Regulations governing medical marijuana dispensaries will remain intact.
  • The state will collect a fourteen percent excise tax on retail sales. This may apply to local sales tax as well.
  • According to S.54, all towns and cities, within their jurisdictions must authorize sales and may allocate zoning restrictions on the production of cannabis

Vermont to expunge low-level marijuana convictions

In another cannabis-related issue, Republican Governor Phil Scott passed another measure on Wednesday, Senate Bill 234. This legislation would automatically review and expunge multiple low-level cannabis convictions.

More than 10,000 individuals convicted in the possession of fewer than two ounces of cannabis are expected to have their criminal records expunged.

In some cases, provisions will be made to reduce the penalties for those possessing more than one, but less than two ounces of marijuana, and/or growing of three plants, which would be reduced to a civil fine.

What’s next for the Vermont recreational marijuana market?

In a letter to lawmakers, Governor Scott stated that the regulation of cannabis is a work in progress and “is not complete.” Ongoing investigations and legislations are required to further address public health risks and hazards.

This bold move is expected to create a positive trajectory for growth within the cannabis industry. Before dispensaries in VT can open, multiple bureaucratic loopholes must be navigated.

At this time Vermont is expected to proceed with recreational cannabis sales in October 2022.