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Law Vermont


Well-Known Member
Vermont House approves expansion of medical marijuana, including option to both grow and buy
The bill also adds more dispensaries and additional qualifying conditions

By The Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont lawmakers have approved a modest expansion to the state’s medical marijuana program, giving people access to the drug for a wider range of diseases and allowing more dispensary locations.

The House gave the bill preliminary approval on a voice vote Monday. The Senate has already approved the bill.

Vermont has four licensed dispensaries. The approved measure would allow each existing dispensary to open two more locations.

People suffering from Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder will also be able to access marijuana under the measure, and patients will be able to grow marijuana and purchase it if they wish. In the previous version of the bill, patients had to choose between growing it themselves or buying it from a dispensary.
This is about rec MJ...yeah?

Marijuana legalization bill squeaks through Vermont House
The measure passed by a vote of 75 to 71, following hours of debate

ublished: May 4, 2017, 8:45 am • Updated: about 3 hours ago Comments (1)
By The Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. — By a margin of only four votes, the Vermont House passed a bill that could legalize recreational marijuana statewide, allowing citizens to grow and possess small amounts of marijuana. The bill will now move to the Senate, where it is unlikely to be brought up for debate until next year.

The bill would make it legal for adults age 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of pot, two mature plants and four immature plants. It does not create a regulatory system for legally selling and taxing pot. The measure passed by a vote of 75 to 71, following hours of debate.

This is a separate bill than the one passed in April by the Senate, which would regulate, tax and legalize small amounts of marijuana.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott has expressed reservations about moving ahead with recreational marijuana legislation.
Senate Approves Amended House Medical Marijuana Bill
Vermont’s House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday that would allow adults 21 and older to grow and possess marijuana, again putting it on course to have the first state legislature in the nation that legalizes recreational pot under local law.

Late last month, the state Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass an even more expansive legalization bill that would regulate sales, suggesting there's enough support for a bill to reach Gov. Phil Scott's desk.

Scott, a Republican, has expressed concern about the effects of legalization on drugged driving and has suggested waiting to learn from the experiences of other states where marijuana is legal. But it's unclear if he would veto the House measure.

There remain significant hurdles, however, even without Scott clarifying his stance.

The state General Assembly is expected to adjourn as early as Friday, and in the short span of time the Senate would need to pass the House bill, or a bicameral conference committee would need to hash out a compromise.

"It's certainly not a done deal yet," says Vermont state Rep. Thomas Burditt, a Republican co-sponsor of the House legislation.

Burditt says he was joined by two other Republicans voting in favor of the House measure Tuesday, when it won 74-68 approval on a second reading. The bill passed on a final third reading in a 75-71 vote Wednesday, with the partisan divide not immediately clear.

"I believe in adults, for the most part, making adult decisions," Burditt says. "Legislators are listening to their constituents."

Matt Simon, a pro-legalization lobbyist with the Marijuana Policy Project, says it would be unusual for the Senate Rules Committee to send a House-passed bill to the full Senate so late in the legislative season.

"That will be the next question," Simon says.

State Sen. Joe Benning, one of two Republicans who reportedly voted for the Senate bill, says "I strongly suspect it will be next year" when a legalization bill is sent to the governor.

"There is almost no time left for a committee of conference" to reconcile the bills, Benning says. He says "it would be shockingly surprising to me" if the Senate Rules Committee referred the House bill to a floor vote.

The chairman of that committee, Sen. Tim Ashe – a legalization supporter aligned with the Progressive and Democratic parties – did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Currently, eight states and the nation’s capital have recreational marijuana legalization laws, all of them passed by voter initiatives.

Residents of next-door Massachusetts and nearby Maine approved initiatives in November, and regulations are taking shape for retail markets.

To the north, Canadian lawmakers recently moved toward legalizing public possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana for adults.

Vermont’s legalization of home-growing and possession but not sales would mirror the District of Columbia’s situation. Congress, which can exercise control over local funds in the U.S. capital, has blocked a regulated marketplace.

The bill passed by the Vermont House would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, and to grow two mature and four immature plants.

Scott spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley did not respond to a request for comment about his position.

If they pass it, great. If they don't, people will go to Maine and Massachusetts for it and pay taxes there instead of in Vermont. You got to love part time legislators. They don't have time to consider the bill. sigh Same in Maryland but we do have our MMJ program in place and hopefully see dispensaries opened by Aug/Sep.
What's with these state legislatures and their ridiculous calendars? In Maine the legislature only works for the the first half of the year. They literally have half the year off. They make the Feds look like workaholics.
Vermont House votes to legalize marijuana, sends bill to governor
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Published: May 10, 2017, 2:00 pm • Updated: about 4 hours ago Add a Comment

By The Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont House has voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana in the state.

By a vote of 79 to 66, the House on Wednesday afternoon passed a bill that has already been passed by the state Senate. The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who has expressed reservations about it.

The vote came after an hour of debate.

Under the legislation, small amounts of marijuana will be legal to possess and grow starting in July 2018. Meanwhile, a nine-member commission would develop a law that would tax and regulate marijuana and present it to the Legislature next year.

The proposal would eliminate penalties for possession of one ounce of marijuana and two mature and four immature plants for people over age 21. It would retain criminal penalties for possessing larger amounts.

Go Vermont. Got to love a state like Vermont with a long history of telling outsiders (the Feds) to go to hell. My kind of libertarians.
Why Vermont is so important for the US marijuana movement

Vermont has broken through a “glass ceiling” by legalizing marijuana via legislation. Full legalization is now an option in all 50 states, not just those that support voter initiatives.

The Vermont state legislature just approved marijuana legalization for their citizens, and if the bill is either approved by Republican Phil Scott, or allowed to become law without the governor’s veto, Vermont will become the eighth state (along with the District of Columbia), to legalize the adult use of marijuana.

Specifically the bill would make it perfectly legal for adults in Vermont to cultivate their own marijuana (up to two mature plants, or four immature plants), and to possess small amounts (up to one ounce) of marijuana, with an effective date of July 1, 2018.

And equally important, the bill anticipates the adoption of a regulated and taxed market in the future, by establishing a legislative commission to study the best ways to establish a regulated market. In the current form, the Vermont bill is similar to the law in effect in the District of Columbia, where adults are permitted to grow and possess small amounts of marijuana, but there is yet no legal market where consumers can obtain their marijuana.

On one level, the actions of the Vermont legislature to legalize the recreational use of marijuana is a significant event, worthy of our celebration, because of its location. Legalization as a social movement started in the west, and only recently began to score victories in the east.

Maine and Massachusetts both legalized marijuana by a successful voter initiative in 2016. And now Vermont has joined those states by adopting legalization legislatively. Other northeastern states seriously considering legalization include both Rhode Island and Connecticut, and New Hampshire just fully decriminalized minor marijuana offenses. So the legalization movement is now becoming truly a nationwide movement.

Winning Legislatively Is More Difficult

But it is even more important when one realizes that up to this point, all of our full legalization victories at the state level have been by voter initiatives (as was also true of the first several medical use victories). With our issue (and with many other social issues), the attitudes of average Americans are far more progressive, and supportive of our goals, than are the attitudes of most state elected officials.

Even in states with polling data showing more than 60% voter support for full legalization (that’s the national average), elected officials frequently remain convinced that their public support for legalization might well cause them to be defeated at the next election, by a “law-and-order”candidate. Too frequently they duck the issue entirely, or support the status quo, knowing that few politicians have ever been defeated because they are too “tough on crime.”

At least that appears to be the principal most elected officials adhere to. They see the favorable polling, but somehow refuse to believe those results are accurate for their constituents. But that too is now beginning to change, as NORML and other pro-reform organizations get better at the necessary task of organizing grass-roots support, assuring that our elected officials hear from our supporters on a regular basis, both personally and through the media.

But perhaps not so much in Vermont. As Vermont Lt. Governor David Zuckerman observed when the bill passed, “I think it reflects that Vermont elected officials are more in touch with our constituents than a lot of elected officials in other states.”

For too long, our opponents were vocal and were controlling the public dialogue on marijuana policy. Today that balance has shifted significantly, and to some degree we now shape the terms of the policy debate. We are clearly winning the fight for the hearts and minds of the American public, and that support will eventually assure our success legislatively.

Only 26 States Offer The Option of A Voter Initiative

This is important because only twenty-six states offer the voter initiative as an alternative to the state legislature as a vehicle to change public policy. And to win legalization nationwide, we must be able to win approval in those states without a voter initiative.

This victory in Vermont is a true milestone in that it demonstrates we are now (finally) approaching the point where we can move legalization forward in state legislatures. Of course some states will take longer than others, and skeptical legislators will need to be convinced that legalization actually works as intended, without any significant unintended consequences.

But we now have data from the favorable experience with legalization in the first few states that we can use to convert more and more state legislators, and with each new state that adopts legalization legislatively, it becomes easier (and less “radical”) for the next.

With Vermont we have broken through a significant “glass ceiling” for legalization, and there is no stopping us now. Full legalization is now an option in all 50 states, not just those that offer a voter initiave.

Thanks, Vermonters, for showing us the way.
Vermont governor vetoes marijuana bill, wants changes made

By Associated Press May 24 at 12:23 PM
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Republican Gov. Phil Scott said Wednesday that he planned to veto a bill making Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana but indicated that he was willing to work with the legislature on a compromise.

Scott said he is sending the bill back with suggestions for another path forward and suggested that changes could be made to the bill in a special session this summer.

“We must get this right,” Scott said. “I think we need to move a little bit slower.”

The governor has said he’s not philosophically opposed to marijuana legalization but has concerns about public safety, children’s health and impaired drivers.

Under the legislation, small amounts of marijuana would have been legal to possess and grow for anyone over age 21.

Eight other states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana. Vermont would have been the first state to legalize marijuana by vote of a state legislative body. The other states and D.C. legalized marijuana after public referendums.

Studies by the Vermont Department of Health have found that Vermont has among the highest prevalence of marijuana use in the country and the second-highest use among people ages 12 to 25.

Proponents of marijuana legalization have said passage by the Democrat-majority legislature shows the inevitable expansion of marijuana legalization and the recognition by officials that it’s better to regulate and tax the industry than to keep it underground.

Vermont’s legislature passed the measure six months after residents in Massachusetts and Maine voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Both states are now developing mechanisms to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana. The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Nearly 20 states have bills pending that would legalize adult-use marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The other eight states that have legalized marijuana have done so via citizen referendums, but Vermont does not have a legal mechanism to carry out such referendums.

Perhaps they will override his veto. It ain't over until its over. Besides, if not passed then....well, its not a long drive from Vermont to Massachusetts and Maine.....their citizens will get it elsewhere and pay taxes elsewhere, to boot!
More detailed article from Vermont local news source, not very positive news:

Vermont governor vetoes marijuana legislation


Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed a bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana in Vermont.

He announced the decision Wednesday afternoon at a press conference in the Pavilion Building in Montpelier.

The governor said he was not "philosophically opposed" to marijuana, but lawmakers have to address certain issues before committing the state to legalization.

The bill would have legalized adult possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana, and allow Vermonters to grow a couple of plants at home, starting in July, 2018.

The legislation would have set up a new study commission to consider adoption of a fully regulated marijuana market.

Scott said he read the text of S. 22 over the weekend and found some of his concerns were addressed by lawmakers. He had been worried about how highway safety would be affected by legalization, and how the bill would protect children.

The president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana released a statement responding to the governor's decision.

"We commend Governor Scott for vetoing S22 and backing parents, teachers, doctors and law enforcement across Vermont who are working each day to make our communities healthier and safer," SAM President Kevin Sabet said. "Vermont already decriminalized marijuana years ago --- this bill was designed to be a gateway for the full scale commercialization of another drug in Vermont."

Sabet added, "But our work is not over. There will be a special session next month to discuss a path forward. We will be working very closely with our allies to make sure any piece of legislation does not allow Big Marijuana to come to Vermont."

The American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter also agreed with the governor's decision, asking Scott to "oppose any forthcoming special-session legislation that would cause harm to Vermont's children and adolescents."

This version of the bill is now dead. The legislature can create another recreational marijuana bill in January, when the new session begins. There is no guarantee lawmakers will do this.

This is the second year in a row an attempt to legalize recreational marijuana has failed. Last year, lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives had two plans. They could not create a compromise bill and ran out of time.
Vermont expands medical marijuana plan

The governor of Vermont has expanded medical marijuana there, weeks after vetoing a bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana.
Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, signed a bill that adds Parkinson's disease, Crohn's disease and post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that can be legally treated with pot.

When the law goes into effect July 1, those patients will be eligible to legally possess and use marijuana, and to buy it at the four state-sanctioned dispensaries in Vermont.

Vermont has had legal medical marijuana since 2004. It applies to patients with a list of serious conditions that are typically found on state plans, including cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma.

Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, and it's not unusual for states to expand those programs. New York recently added chronic pain to its medical marijuana program.

The expansion in Vermont is notable because the governor on May 24 rejected a separate bill that would have made Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana, and the first to do by legislative means.

Scott said he was not "philosophically opposed to ending the prohibition on marijuana." He sent the bill back to the legislature for improvements, rather than killing it.

Scott said he wanted tougher penalties for stoned driving and for providing the drug to children. He also wants the bill to include "an impairment testing mechanism" that police could use to find out if a driver is stoned. There's no marijuana Breathalyzer on the market, though a couple of startups are testing them.

Lawmakers will convene June 21 for a special session on the recreational marijuana bill.
Vermont Lawmakers Scheduled to Hold 2-Day Veto Session
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont lawmakers are due back in Montpelier this week for what’s scheduled to be a two-day session to deal with vetoes issued by Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Backers of Cannabis Legalization Hope for Compromise in Vermont

The veto session is scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Among the issues that will be addressed are Scott’s veto of the state budget and a bill that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Vermont.

Vermont Gov. Vetoes Cannabis Legalization Bill

Scott vetoed the state budget because lawmakers did not pass a health insurance plan for teachers that he says would save taxpayers $26 million a year. He vetoed the marijuana proposal because of some public safety concerns he had with the legislation.

Negotiations have been underway between lawmakers and the governor’s office to reach agreements on both issues before lawmakers return on Wednesday.
Pot compromise to come up in veto session, but prospects dim
Marijuana legalization is poised to come before lawmakers again during a special legislative session beginning Wednesday, but it may not make it far.

Legislative leaders and the Scott administration reached a compromise on final sticking points Tuesday, according to Sen. Party: DEMOCRATIC


View all legislator information" class="glossaryLink " target="_blank">Dick Sears
, D-Bennington, who is Judiciary Committee chair. He expects to bring the latest version to his colleagues in the Senate when the Legislature reconvenes Wednesday.

Negotiations between House and Senate proponents of the bill and Gov. Phil Scott’s team began weeks ago after the governor vetoed S.22, a bill that would have legalized possession of limited amounts of marijuana.

Scott sent it back with input for how the bill could be changed on several points to win his support. Sears and House Judiciary Chair Maxine Grad, D-Moretown, have been working with the administration since then to reach agreement.

Sears said the last sticking points in discussions with Scott’s administration related to setting penalties for using marijuana in a car with someone under age 18, and for having marijuana at a day care center or after-school program.

In the final agreement, new misdemeanor crimes would be created for both those offenses, with penalties of fines but no jail time, according to Sears. He is somewhat reluctant to adopt those points, but said he agrees with the governor’s goal to reduce marijuana use around kids.

“We’ve tried to move away from creating new crimes,” Sears said.

The negotiators also came to a deal on the makeup of a commission charged with exploring the creation of a regulated pot market, Sears said. The commission, which initially was to be made up primarily of legislators, will comprise six administration appointees, six legislative appointees, and a representative each for the defender general and the attorney general.

Sears plans to go through the bill with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. He said he is optimistic the legislation would have support to pass the Senate during the veto session.

Whether the House will come on board is a looming question.

To move any bill through the Legislature in a short time period, the chambers need to agree to suspend parliamentary rules that have built-in wait times. In the House, where legalization passed by a slim margin initially, a rules suspension likely will not get the necessary three-quarters support without cooperation of the House Republican caucus.

House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, speaks to the Republican Caucus on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. Photo by Erin Mansfield/VTDigger

" data-medium-file="https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Don-Turner-2.3.17-2.jpg?fit=200,300&ssl=1" data-large-file="https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Don-Turner-2.3.17-2.jpg?fit=250,375&ssl=1" class="size-full wp-image-194090" src="https://i0.wp.com/vtdigger.org/wp-c.../Don-Turner-2.3.17-2.jpg?resize=250,375&ssl=1" alt="Don Turner" style="-x-ignore: 1" width="250" height="375">
House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton. File photo by Erin Mansfield/VTDigger

Sears said he asked members of Scott’s team Tuesday whether the governor would seek support for the bill from Republicans in the lower chamber.

“They were more or less saying, if there’s a will there’s a way,” Sears said. “I don’t know what that means.”

If Scott does not urge support to suspend the rules, Sears is uncertain of the bill’s future.

“Without him coming out and strongly urging the House Republicans to suspend the rules, I’m not sure it’ll get there,” Sears said.

Earlier in the day, Scott told reporters he would not be surprised if his administration reached a deal with lawmakers before the veto session, but he said he did not know what House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, would do about the issue.

“I’m going to let him do what he wants to do,” Scott said.

Scott said he would have discussions with Turner about the issue, but at the time there wasn’t a deal.

“I don’t have power over him,” Scott said. “I can’t tell him what to do. Obviously it’s his decision to make.”

Turner was in Montpelier on Tuesday afternoon meeting with House leadership on the teacher health care issue that led the governor to veto two other bills. He said he believed it would be possible to complete the work on the budget and education finance bills in just one day rather than the two allotted. Marijuana legalization did not fit into that vision.

He said the governor’s favorable opinion on a marijuana legalization measure would not change the level of support for the issue in the Republican caucus. The caucus will vote on whether to allow a rules suspension, he said. However, he said, the issue could wait until the Legislature convenes for the second half of the biennium in January.

“We have a whole other session to go through,” Turner said. “If caucus members vote to suspend the rules we will do it, but only three members in the caucus support it.”

He conceded the majority could try to push the issue through without a rules suspension.

“I don’t know that there is that much appetite for people to come back for three days,” Turner said.

Up in Vermont, do you pay actually pay these guys?? Wow, three whole days of work, sheesh!
Vermont Marijuana Legalization Stalls in the House, Fails Again
Vermont lawmakers once again came close — but once again failed — to pass legislation to legalize marijuana Wednesday during a one-day special veto session.

The legal weed bill passed the Senate easily, as it has the past two years. But the bill hit a wall in the House, where an effort to suspend rules to bring the bill to the floor fell far short.

"It is our best chance to pass legalization of small amounts of marijuana," Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Sears (D-Bennington) told fellow senators before their vote early Wednesday evening.

The measure, which would have legalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana starting in July 2018, passed in the Senate on a voice vote, with only a few dissenters. The bill would also have created a commission to study taxed and regulated sale of marijuana.

Wednesday’s vote came after Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a similar bill last month. But the Republican governor reached an agreement with the Democrat-controlled legislature Wednesday on a slightly revised version.

Administration Secretary Susanne Young said after the Senate vote that the governor would sign the bill if it reached him. But the governor made no effort to encourage House Republicans to help make that happen.

"I had never made a commitment to push the House and what they were going to do,” Scott said Wednesday night after the House voted. “I said it was up to them."

Nonetheless, Scott argued that he was serious about trying to enact a legalization bill. Otherwise, he said, "we wouldn't have worked so hard to come to an agreement with the House and Senate."

After the Senate's vote, the bill went to the House, where rules required that it wait a day before coming to a vote. Members can vote to suspend rules to advance a bill more quickly, but that takes three-quarters of the chamber.

House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington) called for a rules suspension to take up the bill Wednesday evening. But she fell far short of the 107 votes she needed after a 78-63 roll call vote.

The vote was largely along party lines, but not entirely. Fourteen of the chamber's 83 Democrats voted against rules suspension while five of the 53 Republicans voted to suspend rules.

House Minority Leader Don Turner (R-Milton), who opposes legalization, said Scott never pressed him to suspend House rules. “He was clear that we had to what we had to do,” Turner said.

Turner said Wednesday afternoon that House Republicans would meet later in the day to debate whether to suspend rules, but that meeting never happened. He later said that holding another caucus meeting would have pushed the session late into the night and wasn't worthwhile.

Sears, a marijuana legalization supporter who has watched legislation fail in the House the last two years, said making another try was still worthwhile. The same bill will await lawmakers when they return to Montpelier in January, when suspending the rules won't be an issue.

“We’ll have something of an agreement with the administration,” he said.

Sears joined with House Judiciary Committee chair Maxine Grad (D-Moretown) to negotiate changes to the vetoed bill with Scott's staff. At Scott’s request, the new measure would have made it a misdemeanor crime for minors who provide marijuana to other, younger minors. Consuming marijuana with a minor in a car would be a crime as well. The bill also broadened the commission to include more of Scott’s appointees.

The bill’s failure Wednesday means the commission meant to study taxing and regulating marijuana will be delayed from starting its work, Sears noted. An alternative would be for the governor to enact the commission by executive order.

Scott said Wednesday night that he is "contemplating some sort of commission." If he does create one, it likely would focus first on highway safety issues and youth drug prevention before examining how Vermont might tax and regulate marijuana, he said.
Never Trust a Lawmaker with Pot Legalization—Vermont Bags It

A majority of elected officials wanted it. The Republican governor wanted it (at least in theory). Certainly, marijuana legalization is what the citizens of Vermont want.

So what? These are American lawmakers we’re talking about. When marijuana legalization is concerned, no elected body of representatives has yet to enact the will of the people. And so it is that legalization in Vermont is dead until 2018 at the earliest, this time thanks to Republicans in the state House of Representatives, who refused to give a compromise legalization bill a hearing on Wednesday night.

As the Burlington Free Press reported, “nearly all 53 House Republicans” voted to refuse to consider the legalization bill… despite approving the similar bill a few weeks before.

This is the latest, final twist in a will-they-won’t-they drama that began in April, when the Vermont state legislature managed to pass a cannabis legalization bill that’s similar in scope to voter-approved recreational marijuana laws in nearby Massachusetts and Maine.

That bill was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott, who nonetheless kept hope alive by saying he was for legalization in theory, but had a few concerns with this bill in particular.

Late last week, a compromise bill with Scott’s recommended revisions—providing specific penalties for people caught giving marijuana to minors or driving under the influence—was thrown together, but Republicans’ move on a party-line vote Wednesday to refuse to consider the compromise bill during a special session was the death knell.

Vermont would have been the ninth state in the country to allow adults 21 and over to possess, cultivate and use up to an ounce of cannabis. According to a Marijuana Policy Project poll, 57 percent of Vermonters want marijuana legalized—which is slightly below the national average of more than 60 percent, according to Gallup.

Possession is decriminalized in the state, one of the most liberal in the Northeast, and medical marijuana has been legal for years, but the episode reaffirms what we already knew: when it comes to legalizing weed, it’s up to voters.

Every state to legalize cannabis has done so via the popular vote on a citizen initiative. And in the case of Massachusetts, a voter-approved legalization framework has been changed by lawmakers to raise taxes and remove specific powers assigned to local voters and take it for themselves.

This begs the question: Just what are lawmakers waiting for? At least publicly, even they can’t bring themselves to offer any kind of excuse, even a believable one.

“Everybody in this state understands that marijuana is going to become law in Vermont at some point,” said House Republican Leader Don Turner, speaking at a recent party caucus, as the Free Press reported. “Someday it’s going to be here. But is this the time? I don’t know.”

“I don’t know” is a craven way to say, “I’d really rather not, but I’d also prefer not to say why.”

Vermont lawmakers may now take up the issue again in January 2018, when the next legislative session begins. What difference will seven months make? Maybe that will be long enough for Turner and his ilk to cook up an excuse for the needless prevarication.

I share this author's view of the American professional political class and I can only ferverently hope that the electorate in states like Vermont make these folks pay a very high price at the polls. And these anti-democratic ass-hats are supposed to be our leaders? Really? FFS :BangHead::horse::cursing::torching:
On the face of it, this seems pretty fucked up. Makes one wonder what's going on in the smoke filled back rooms. And what's up with only 5 dispensary licenses for the whole state??

Bennington Group Denied Medical Marijuana Dispensary License Files Suit Against State of Vermont

On Wednesday night, Bernie Barriere, a co-founder of Vermont Green Grow LLC, issued a statement on their Facebook page saying that their application for the license to operate the state’s next medical marijuana page had been officially denied by the Department of Public Safety.

However, in an exclusive interview, the Bennington-based group has filed a civil lawsuit against the State of Vermont where they are disputing the grounds for their application’s denial.

Via a press release sent Thursday morning, the founders of Vermont Green Grow said that they had been informed in early August that their application would not be considered and had been disqualified due to lack of missing materials.

According to that press release, the group were told by DPS that they had had the application disqualified because they had failed to meet basic standards of the application, including providing signatures, articles of incorporation, zoning information, and more:

The de minimis deficiencies cited by Ms. Wells included a claim the Application was not signed by Bernard Barriere on behalf of Vermont Green Grow – which was not true; a claim Vermont Green Grow did not provide Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws for the company – which would not legally be possible as Vermont Green Grow is a Limited Liability Company and therefore does not have Articles of Incorporation or By-Laws. The submitted Application did in fact have copies of a print-out from the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office confirming the existence and recognition in Vermont of Vermont Green Grow; a claim Vermont Green Grow did not provide evidence that the proposed dispensary would be legally situated in the Town of Bennington – Documentation, photographs, maps and satellite images, along with a letter from the Bennington Town Manager were in fact submitted; a claim Vermont Green Grow did not submit financial data to document specified expenses, including an acknowledgment that Vermont Green Grow would pay for the costs associated with registry identification cards – full financial statements were included in the Application, including a very specific line item for the requisite costs for registry identification cards; a claim that Vermont Green Grow did not provide a list of “all individuals or entities proposed that will have direct or indirect entitlements to the land or building(s) – Every individual associated with Vermont Green Grow were fully revealed as part of the Application submission.

When reached for comment, an official with the Vermont Marijuana Registry said that due to the ongoing nature of the situation, “we do not have an official comment at this time.”

In an exclusive interview with Heady Vermont, Jack Tomarchio, Esq., General Counsel for Vermont Green Grow, said that following the notification, the group reached out to the Department of Public Safety to schedule a meeting. Tomarchio and the press release describe the meeting as “tense” and he says that the heart of his complaint is that DPS justifications were ‘de minimis’ and minor issues with wording, not the substance of the application itself.

Tomarchio, a Vermont Law School alumnus and former Army JAG Officer who is a part of the Vermont Green Grow team, says that as a former federal government official, he thought the meeting was to address a minor issue – a box left unchecked or signature line left unsigned – but said he was surprised by what he described as an adversarial tone.

According to Vermont Green Grow, the issues that DPS raised in that meeting and had apparently used to disqualify their application were based on wording and style, rather than a lack of substance or incomplete information.

Bernie Barriere of Vermont Green Grow listens as Vermont Marijuana Registry Officials Answer Questions About Dispensary Application Process – Eli Harrington, Heady Vermont 2017

One example was the section addressing the location, saying that his group had provided maps and location details of their facilities, but hadn’t used the exact phrase, “the building is at least 1000 feet from a childcare facility’ — that the officials were looking for ways to disqualify the Vermont Green Grow application.

Between the adversarial tone and the minor nature of the terms used to disqualify their $2500 application, Tomarchio says that the Vermont Green Grow group feel that their application wasn’t reviewed in an impartial way.

“I suspect they reviewed it (the application), but I suspect they reviewed it with an eye towards disqualification. I don’t know if they reviewed the documents in an impartial and fair manner. Based on what I noticed from their behavior and demeanor during our meeting, I would be surprised if they did. When we had first asked for a meeting, they denied it.”

After that meeting made it clear their application was being disqualified, Tomarchio officially filed a **civil suit against the State of Vermont Department of Public Safety on September 8 on behalf of Vermont Green Grow. The purpose of that emergency ex parte injunction was to halt the ongoing application process for the fifth dispensary license until their complaints and civil suit were addressed.

“We asked for an ex parte hearing, which would be a hearing before the judge, not necessarily with the DPS being there. An emergency hearing because we thought the award was going to be made on September 11.”

The complaint was heard by Judge Mary Miles Teachout, presiding Judge of Washington County Superior Court Civil Division, who issued a same-day ruling denying the emergency injunction stating that, “the facts do not show that Plaintiff would have received the sole available license if its application had not been denied.”

While the injunction was denied and the state’s fifth medical marijuana license will be awarded — the recipient is being notified today, Thursday, 9/21 — the State does still have to respond to the complaint by September 28, twenty days after it was filed.

Tomarchio says he expects to get a response from DPS and said that his group will “see where that goes”. When asked if his group had spoken to other applicants about joining the suit, Tomarchio said,

“We haven’t discussed it with any other applicants and it’s not something we’re considering at this time.
Vermont medical society seeks to impede cannabis legalization

Two resolutions proposed to the Vermont Medical Society’s annual November meeting may present an obstacle for the trend of medical and recreational cannabis legalization in Vermont.

One resolution proposes that warning labels be added to medical marijuana products and would restrict the conditions by which medical marijuana is prescribed. Many members of the Vermont Medical Society feel that there is a lack of scientific and medical evidence to support medical marijuana as a cure or alleviation for many currently accepted conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. “The more people label it as medical or something that’s legalized, the less wary people are going to be,” stated Dr. Geoffrey Kane, Brattleboro Retreat’s chief of addiction services.

The other resolution comes out against the push to legalize marijuana recreationally. This “really developed from a lot of physicians seeing a side from marijuana use that probably the public doesn’t see,” said Dr. David Rettew, a pediatric psychiatrist at the University of Vermont Medical Center who co-authored the proposed resolutions alongside Dr. Catherine Antley, a South Burlington-based dermatopathologist, and Dr. John Hughes, UVM’s addiction specialist.

In addition to keeping cannabis an illegal controlled substance, the resolution would band together state agencies and physicians to educate both children and adults on the alleged negative health effects of consuming cannabis. While the resolution necessitates the research of costs associated with the current cannabis decriminalization, it also proposes research on the future ways that legalizing cannabis could potentially affect the taxpayers of Vermont, such as the cost of healthcare, emergency room visits, lost productivity, and law enforcement.

Matt Simon, political director for Marijuana Policy Project of Washington D.C., theorizes that the proposal essentially calls for a return to prohibition and ignores many potential fiscal and social benefits of legalization. “Prohibition has not been effective policy from a public health perspective,” Simon said.

The two proposed resolutions will be discussed and voted on during the Medical Society’s annual membership meeting on November 4, from 9-11 am at the Woodstock Inn.
And Scott (note: the Governor), in an interview on Friday, said he was still “comfortable” with the plan.

“It’s not a high priority for me, but I did make a commitment that I was supportive of the bill that was put together,” he said of the revised legislation during an appearance on Vermont Public Radio.

Wait...he's comfortable with 2018.....this is the fuckhead that vetoed the bill in 2017! Wow, really taking leading from behind to new height, eh? :horse::rant::smackdown::torching:

Vermont governor “comfortable” legalizing Marijuana in early 2018

Vermont is on pace to become the first state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana through an act of lawmakers early next year.

In 2017, the state fell just short of doing so. The legislature passed a bill to legalize personal cannabis possession and homegrow, but Gov. Phil Scott (R) vetoed it. However, in doing so, he laid out a few small changes he wanted legislators to make in order to win his support. The Senate quickly acted to make the requested revisions, but the House was not able to jump through procedural hurdles to get it done in time during a short special session over the summer.

Advocates believe they can quickly move the bill through the House under regular order once the legislative reconvenes early next month. And Scott, in an interview on Friday, said he was still “comfortable” with the plan.

“It’s not a high priority for me, but I did make a commitment that I was supportive of the bill that was put together,” he said of the revised legislation during an appearance on Vermont Public Radio.

All eight states that have ended cannabis prohibition to date have done so via ballot measures approved by voters. Reform supporters think that either Vermont or New Jersey, where Gov.-elect Phil Murphy (D) campaigned on legalization, will be the first state to end prohibition through an act of lawmakers.

Vermont’s approach would be different than the laws that exist in other states, in that it would enact a noncommercial form of legalization where only possessing small amounts of cannabis and growing a few plants at home would be legal. There would initially be no licensed stores where consumers could purchase marijuana, but the Senate-passed legislation would create a commission to study possible future commercialization.

New Jersey lawmakers, on the other hand, are expected to consider full-scale commercial legalization right away, something that Murphy repeatedly argued on the campaign trail is necessary to undermine the illegal market.

Because Vermont’s compromise bill has already cleared one chamber and now just needs approval from the other, the state seems poised to get its legislation across the finish line sooner than the Garden State can act.

However, in the Friday interview Scott said that it might make sense to further tweak the compromise bill before lawmakers send it to his desk in 2018. That’s because during the legislative recess he proactively created a marijuana legalization study commission via executive order.

“Part of that bill is no longer needed,” Scott said, referring to its commission provisions.

While saying that he hasn’t “spoken to legislative leaders” about it, the governor suggested they might want to “make some changes on the floor, send it back to committee, make some alterations and then we’ll see what they either add or delete and then we’ll see if it’s the same as what I committed to pushing forward with.”

Accomplishing those changes likely would not take very long given that a consensus between legislative leaders and Scott on getting legalization enacted seemed to crystalize during the 2017 session.

In the radio interview, Scott also discussed concerns about “determining impairment on our highways, regardless of what the substance is,” something he has consistently raised. “Whether we legalize [marijuana] or not, we still have to face this,” he said.
Yeah, I will believe Gov Scott when I see him sign the bill.

Vermont Will Legalize Marijuana In Early January, House Speaker Says

A top Vermont lawmaker says the state could become the first in the U.S. to legalize marijuana through an act of lawmakers early next year.

“It will be up for a vote in early January,” House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D) said on Friday. “I expect that it likely will pass in early January.”

In 2017, the state fell just short of enacting legalization. The legislature passed a bill to legalize personal cannabis possession and homegrow, but Gov. Phil Scott (R) vetoed it. However, in doing so, he laid out a few small changes he wanted legislators to make in order to win his support. The Senate quickly acted to make the requested revisions, but the House was not able to jump through procedural hurdles to get it done in time during a short special session over the summer.

Because the legislature operates on a biennial basis, the bill is still alive, and the House just needs to take one more vote to get the bill onto the governor’s desk.

Last week, Scott said he is “comfortable” signing a marijuana legalization bill into law early next year.

Johnson, in the Friday interview with Vermont Public Radio, said there “hasn’t been a significant shift” in support in the legislature since the momentum for legalization that built up earlier this year.

“We do have agreement with the governor and with the Senate on what that bill currently says,” she said.

All eight states that have ended cannabis prohibition to date have done so via ballot measures approved by voters. Reform supporters think that either Vermont or New Jersey, where Gov.-elect Phil Murphy (D) campaigned on legalization, will be the first state to end prohibition through an act of lawmakers.

Vermont’s approach would be different than the laws that exist in other states, in that it would enact a noncommercial form of legalization where only possessing small amounts of cannabis and growing a few plants at home would be legal. There would initially be no licensed stores where consumers could purchase marijuana, but the Senate-passed legislation would create a commission to study possible future commercialization.

New Jersey lawmakers, on the other hand, are expected to consider full-scale commercial legalization right away, something that Murphy repeatedly argued on the campaign trail is necessary to undermine the illegal market.

Because Vermont’s compromise bill has already cleared one chamber and now just needs approval from the other, the state seems poised to get its legislation across the finish line sooner than the Garden State can act.

But in the interview last week, Scott said it might make sense for lawmakers to make some small tweaks.

That’s because during the legislative recess he proactively created a marijuana legalization study commission via executive order.

“Part of that bill is no longer needed,” Scott said, referring to its commission provisions.

Johnson, in the new interview, said the commission “will provide some suggestions for further action,” such as potentially legalizing and regulating cannabis sales.

“We’ll be looking into further legislation to really go about this in as thoughtful and responsible a way as possible,” she said.
Vermont lawmakers to take up marijuana legalization again as early as this week
Last year's bill remains active and can be voted on as early as Thursday

By Wilson Ring, The Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont lawmakers are expecting to resume the debate about whether the state should become the first in the country to legalize the recreational use of marijuana through an act of a legislative body in the opening days of the 2018 legislative session, which begins Wednesday.

A revised marijuana legalization bill was passed by the state Senate in June that addressed concerns expressed when Republican Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the original bill passed by both chambers in May. The House did not have time to act on the proposal during a one-day veto session, but since 2018 is the second year of the two-year session, the bill remains active and can be voted on as early as Thursday.

Democratic House Speaker Mitzi Johnson said the marijuana legislation is leftover from last year when it passed, but didn’t pass by a large enough majority for it to be acted upon during the June veto session.

“We’ll see,” she said when asked about its prospects for passage. “People have been gone from Montpelier for a long time. We’ll see how things sugar off on Thursday.”

Republicans who were opposed to the original legalization bill seem resigned to it passing.

“If it’s going to be legalized… we can’t stop it. I don’t like it,” said state Rep Don Turner, the Milton Republican who is the House minority leader. “But we are going to look at, definitely, some amendments to see if there is anything else we can add or modify.”

Other states that legalized marijuana did so through citizen initiatives. Vermont law has no citizen initiative provision.

The original legislation would have taken effect July 1, 2018. It’s unclear what the implementation date would be for any bill passed in the opening days of the 2018 session.

Rebecca Kelley, Scott’s spokeswoman, said marijuana legalization isn’t a priority for the governor.

“As Governor Scott said in June when he came to an agreement with the Legislature on revisions to the bill, he would sign the compromise bill if it made it to his desk, and he has not seen anything to change that position at this point,” Kelley said.

Last May, the Vermont Legislature approved a bill to legalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. In vetoing the bill, Scott said he didn’t have any philosophical objections to legalization, but he had practical concerns such as more aggressive penalties for driving under the influence and looking for more ways to protect the health of children. Those concerns were addressed in the measure passed by the Senate.

In September, Scott created a 13-member commission that is studying some of the practical challenges of legalization, such as public safety and health and taxation. That commission is scheduled to present a report to the governor by the middle of January with some of its recommendations.

While passage seems probable, in December a group of physicians and marijuana opponents urged the state not to approve it.

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