In 2018, lawmakers legalized the possession and cultivation of cannabis for adults 21 and over. In February of 2019, the Vermont Senate voted in favor of the bill known as S.54. A bill that would establish a regulatory system for the production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products. In 2019, the legislative session adjourned without bringing S.54 to a vote in the house.
This legislative session the house is resuming its work on the bill. Representative Sarah Copeland Hanzas is hopeful the bill will make it to the house for a vote.
” It would take us out of that sort of gray area that we are in right now where cannabis is a legal product and adults can grow it and can use it but there is no way for adults to purchase legally,” said Copeland Hanzas.
Timothy Fair and Andrew Subin are the owners of Vermont Cannabis Solutions, an exclusively cannabis law firm and consulting firm. They believe the bill could be the start to a big industry that could boost Vermont’s economy
“We don’t want to see Vermont get left behind. This is the catalyst to really be able to move forward with the cannabis industry here in Vermont,” said Fair.
“The cannabis industry is going to create a lot of well paid jobs in Vermont. I think Vermont needs that. Vermont needs a way to retain its youth and attract new people to the state,” said Subin.
Vermont Cannabis Solutions feels the bill would also be safer for Vermonters.
” The question is, would we rather have a system where people are buying their cannabis on an unregulated market where they don’t know the potency, or would it be better to have people know what they are smoking,” said Suban.
While some see the bill as positive legislation, law enforcement agencies say it will have a negative effect on Vermont
“The green mountains are the beauties we don’t need the green mountains of marijuana,” said Chief Patrick Foley of the Williston Police Department.
Chief Foley said a cannabis retail market would create more problems in the state.
“We’ve got a host of issues… society issues in Vermont, mental health all that, crime, homelessness, and things like that,” said Chief Foley. “Why do we want to introduce that retail. If you’re going to push the issue of retail than law enforcement need the tools to deal with that.”
Right now eight states in the U.S currently have regulated retail cannabis sales. Cannabis is fully legal in 11 states and D.C . It is legal for medical use in 33 states and D.C.