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Vermont may finally start selling cannabis soon

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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Vermont just got a little closer to legalizing cannabis sales. The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee just approved a bill that would tax sales at 10 percent, set up a Cannabis Control Board that would issue licenses and allow towns to tax cannabis slightly more if they choose to. Vermont’s legislature legalized cannabis generally in 2018, but sales were not made legal at that time.

“This bill is the logical next step to the cannabis legalization law that passed last year,” Laura Subin, director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, told Cannabis News Box. “It would give Vermonters a legal way to purchase what is now legal to possess and consume. It would generate revenue for the state and offer critical consumer safety protections that include labeling cannabis and cannabis products for potency and purity and environmental protections.”

Subin said the bill would also prioritize giving communities of color access to the industry, as those communities have been disproportionately harmed by the prohibition of cannabis and the war on drugs. It also contains provisions to protect small Vermont cannabis farmers so the state isn’t taken over by larger producers.

“It is virtually assured that the bill will pass the Senate by a wide margin,” Subin said. “It is also clear that there is strong support for a responsible system of taxed and regulated sales of cannabis to adults in the House. What is not yet clear is how much support there will be from the Governor and whether there would be the political will to work towards an override in the House should a gubernatorial veto seem likely.”

Subin said the bill is overall a good one, and she is excited that lawmakers are finally moving forward with legalizing cannabis sales. She said it’s time to get this done, and Vermont voters want it done as soon as possible.

“I support this bill and the approach that the Senate is taking with it,” Subin said. “I also support the decision to create a Cannabis Control Board and the considerable power delegated to that Board. However, one consequence of this approach is that there are a number of critical aspects of the new industry that will not be decided until the rulemaking process unfolds and then the legislature weighs in again on the Board’s recommendations. This uncertainty is a challenge.”

It looks like 2019 will be the year Vermont consumers will finally have access to cannabis that they didn’t have to grow themselves. This won’t only be good for the state’s economy, but it will help heal the wounds that were created by cannabis being made illegal in the first place.

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Vermont may finally start selling cannabis soon