Bill to Regulate and Tax Marijuana for Adult Use Advances in Vermont House of Representatives; Supporters Urge Swift Passage as Deadline Approaches

MONTPELIER, VT — A bill to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use in Vermont received approval Thursday from the House Government Operations Committee.

The bill is expected to be reviewed by the Ways and Means and Appropriations committees before it receives a vote on the House floor. With only a few weeks left in the legislative session, supporters of S. 54 are urging the House to complete its work on S. 54 in a timely fashion and bring it to the floor for a vote.

The Senate passed the bill with a veto-proof majority in February.

Senate Bill 54 would create a system of regulated marijuana production and sales for adult use in Vermont. Retail sales would be subject to a 16% tax, and municipalities could establish a 2%  local option tax if they host a retailer. It would also change the word “marijuana” to “cannabis” throughout state statutes. A detailed summary of S. 54 is available here.

Laws regulating and taxing cannabis for adult use have been enacted in nine states and the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Vermont and D.C. are the only two U.S. jurisdictions where cannabis is legal but not regulated for adult use.

The Vermont Senate has passed bills to regulate and tax cannabis for adults’ use on several occasions since 2016, but this is the first time such a bill has been approved by a committee in the House.

“We applaud the committee for advancing S. 54, and we urge the House to complete its work on S. 54 without delay,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which is leading a coalition in support of the legislation. “Cannabis has been legal for adults in Vermont for the better part of a year, and it’s time for it to be regulated and taxed in order to protect public health and safety. This legislation reflects years of careful study and deliberation, and it proposes a thoughtful and measured approach to establishing a legal cannabis market. Most Vermonters support regulating the production and sale of cannabis, and they have waited long enough for lawmakers to develop such a system.

“Several states around the country have already implemented similar laws, and they are finding significant public health and safety benefits. Cannabis is being subjected to strict testing, packaging, and labeling requirements that ensure products are not contaminated and that consumers know what they are getting. Cannabis cultivation, processing, and sales are taking place in tightly regulated facilities that are creating jobs and generating tax revenue for their communities. It is by no means a panacea, but it is undoubtedly a huge improvement over the failed system of prohibition that it is replacing.”

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