Gov. Phil Scott has given lawmakers an ultimatum before he will sign off on a tax and regulated retail marijuana market in Vermont.
“We need roadside testing,” Scott said. “I believe a saliva test is the approach to take.”
A bill passed by the Senate earlier this year did not include roadside testing, but the governor’s insistence may be paying off. Some key lawmakers say they’re now considering it.
Sen. Dick Sears, D- Bennington District, says he’ll support roadside testing in cases in which a police officer has probable cause gets a court-ordered search warrant.
Meanwhile, Sears says he’s frustrated over another potential delay to legalized marijuana in Vermont.
“If they want to send our Vermont tax dollars to Williamstown, Massachusett, in my area, that’s what they’re doing,” he said
Advocates of a legal marijuana market are pleased the conversation is continuing, but are concerned. They say a roadside saliva test is ineffective.
“I think it’s regrettable, the saliva testing has not evolved,” said Laura Subin, Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana. “It still cannot test for current impairment, and that is really the key,”
House lawmakers who opposed a roadside saliva test in the past are reviewing the Senate’s bill right now. In the meantime, Sears says he’s concerned about what’s happening on the street without a regulated system.
“People are finding unique ways to sell marijuana untaxed, unregulated and not knowing what’s in it,” he said.
With only a few weeks left to go, Sears isn’t sure he’ll be able to persuade his colleagues in the senate but says a compromise is possible.
The governor is also advocating for more education and thinks individual communities should have a choice whether or not to allow retail sales. .