Just last week I was telling you about how Vermont is aiming to legalize recreational marijuana and the extremely unique circumstances under which they are choosing to do so. Between their diligence in creating multiple ways to handle legalization, visiting states like Colorado who have been extremely successful, and the fact that the Governor clearly stated legalization is on the agenda we pretty much know it’s a fact – legalization is coming to Vermont this year.
Well we were all right in thinking that – but did anyone think it would be happening so soon? It must be a great time to be living in Vermont, knowing that legal cannabis is right around the corner – and it didn’t take a mass opinion forcing it on the government to see it happen.
A bill was introduced to the Senate Committee this past week and it has already passed the first milestone. Bill S.241 has a very good chance at being the bill that legalizes marijuana for recreational use in the state of Vermont. The bill is set up to regulate marijuana in a fashion similar to alcohol.
The framework for the bill would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 1 oz of marijuana – and it will allow state licensed dispensaries to sell up to 1 oz to an individual at a time. However, this bill would pose the same original criminal offenses for amounts larger than that. It would also not allow for home cultivation of the plant. Originally, the bill had writing that would allow for cannabis cafes – however that measure has been stricken from the bill.
Along with regulating the cultivation, processing and dispensing of cannabis this law would also fund education and drug prevention programs for youth. This will likely come from money made off of taxation of the regulated cannabis industry – though specific numbers have not been confirmed.
Now that the Senate Committee has passed the bill the next step is for it to be reviewed by the Senate Financial Committee who will be laying out the groundwork for taxes. The chances of this bill passing through the Senate are very likely – there doesn’t seem to be much opposition, instead they seem to be filled with open minds.
“I want to thank Senator Sears for his leadership and the entire Judiciary Committee for their hard work on this bill,” Governor Shumlin said in a statement. “This legislation meets the principles I outlined in my State of the State Address and I believe it provides the framework for our state to cautiously, step-by-step and in the Vermont way end the failed war on drugs policy of marijuana prohibition.
This debate is about whether we can take a smarter approach towards marijuana, which is already widely available and used by tens of thousands of Vermonters,” Shumin explained. “Promoting prevention, keeping marijuana out of the hands of kids, getting rid of illegal drug dealers, and doing a better job responding to impaired drivers already on our roads, I believe this legislation is a huge improvement on the failed war on drugs. I look forward to working with the Legislature as they continue to debate this issue.”
However, the chances of hitting a hold up when it comes to passing through the House is almost being anticipated. While it may take a while to be approved, the chances are probably better than they think. After all, House representatives might pass it the first time simply knowing it will be back again and again until it finally passes.