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Vermont: Lawmakers Seen Drinking In Hallway Just Before Voting No On Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When the Vermont House on Tuesday soundly rejected a Senate proposal to legalize marijuana and create a regulated retail market for it -- and even failed to decriminalize possession and cultivation of just two cannabis plants -- their unfortunate lack of political courage didn't shock many political observers.

What was a bit more upsetting, though, was that at least two of the politicians who voted "No" on legalization were seen (and photographed!) drinking alcohol in the hall shortly before the vote, according to multiple sources. Photos tweeted by reporter Neil Goswami depict Rep. Gary Viens (R-Newport) and Rep. Corey Parent (R-St. Albans City) enjoying alcholic beverages at the State House during a 15-minute recess from the marijuana debate.

"Drinking in the State House is cool, according to these people who voted against legal pot," Goswami tweeted.

Both Viens and Parent are widely grinning in the photos, apparently believing themselves to be quite clever in taking a drink in the hall before batting down a bill that would have treated marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Vermont: Faith Leaders Support Legislation To End Marijuana Prohibition

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In a letter to state senators on Tuesday, a diverse group of more than a dozen local clergy and faith leaders from across Vermont expressed support for legislation that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use. The bill, S. 241, is expected to receive a full Senate vote this week.

In the letter, the faith leaders say they believe they have “a moral obligation to support change” because the state’s current marijuana prohibition laws “have caused more harm than good for the people of Vermont” and they are “disproportionately enforced against the poor and people of color.”

“As those who teach compassion and love, we believe the harm associated with marijuana can best be minimized through a regulated system that emphasizes education, prevention, and treatment rather than punishment,” they said. “For these reasons, we support S. 241, the proposal to end marijuana prohibition and regulate marijuana in Vermont.”

S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores.

Vermont: House Bill Introduced To Regulate And Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol

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H. 277 mirrors the Senate bill, introduced last week, to establish a legal market for licensed businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older

State Rep. Chris Pearson (P-Burlington) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Vermont. Nine co-sponsors have signed on to H. 277, which mirrors S. 95, the Senate bill introduced last week by Sen. David Zuckerman (P-Chittenden).

“There is a lot of support among legislators and the public for ending marijuana prohibition in Vermont,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is part of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana. “It is never too soon to replace a failed, antiquated policy with a more sensible, evidence-based approach.

"If it’s the right thing to do, the right time to do it is now,” Simon said.

H. 277 and S. 95 would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana; grow up to two flowering marijuana plants and seven non-flowering plants in a secure indoor location; and possess the marijuana yielded from those plants at the same location. It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive while impaired by marijuana.

Vermont: Bill Introduced To Legalize, Regulate, Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol

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Sen. David Zuckerman (P-Hinesburg) introduced a bill Tuesday night that would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Vermont.

“Marijuana prohibition has worn out its welcome in Vermont,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is part of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana. “This is an opportunity for state lawmakers to demonstrate leadership on this issue and set an example for other states to follow in coming years.

"It’s not often that legislators have the chance to improve public safety, bolster the economy, and enhance personal liberties all in one piece of legislation,” Simon said.

The bill, S. 95, would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. They could grow up to two flowering marijuana plants and seven non-flowering plants in a secure indoor location, and they would also be allowed to possess the marijuana grown from those plants at the same location.

It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive while impaired by marijuana.

The Department of Public Safety would be directed to license and regulate marijuana retail stores, lounges, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, and testing laboratories. Localities would have the ability to regulate or prohibit marijuana businesses within their borders.

Vermont: Public Hearing On Marijuana Legalization Scheduled For Wednesday

I(PotLeaf)VT

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A public hearing on the legalization of marijuana in Vermont is scheduled for Wednesday. The hearing will be held statewide via Vermont Interactive Television.

Earlier this year, the Vermont Legislature ordered the administration to study marijuana legalization, with a report due in January, reports the Associated Press.

The state contracted with the RAND Drug Policy Research Center to study the production, distribution, and possession of cannabis.

Wednesday's hearing will be held by Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding and Beau Kilmer, who co-directs the RAND Drug Policy Research Center.

Spaulding and Kilmer will make brief presentations, after which people attending the meeting will be allowed to ask questions and make comments.

Vermont To Study Marijuana Legalization

I(PotLeaf)VT

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin's administration is getting ready to study the fiscal and other impacts of marijuana legalization; the task was assigned by the Vermont Legislature.

Gov. Shumlin said he agreed with lawmakers that "it's timely to do a study," said Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding, reports Dave Gram at the Burlington Free Press,/i>. Spaulding's agency is tasked to report its findings to the Legislature by January 15, 2015.

"We're not going to prejudge what our position would be at the end of it," Spaulding said.

An amendment to a bill whose main purpose was removing a cap on the number of patients who can get medical marijuana in Vermont is responsible for the study. It called for a study of "possible taxing systems" for marijuana, any savings or costs connected with legalizing, regulating and taxing it, the experiences of Colorado and Washington in legalizing cannabis.

Spaulding admitted the Shumlin Administration hadn't yet figured out how to do the study, but then it's been less than a week since the Legislature adjourned. "I know that we're going to take it seriously and we'll probably do a pretty thorough study," he said.

Gov. Shumlin has repeatedly said he wants to see what happens in Washington and Colorado before moving ahead with legalization for Vermont. Spaulding cautioned that the January 2015 deadline for the report may be too soon to answer than question.

Vermont: Senate Approves Marijuana Dispensary Improvement Bill; Measure Going To Governor's Desk

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S. 247 will expand access to medical marijuana for qualified patients and initiate a study on the potential impact of making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol

The Vermont Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that will expand access to medical marijuana for qualified patients. It will now be sent to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has expressed support for the measure.

S. 247, sponsored by Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham), will eliminate the cap on the number of patients who are allowed to access medical marijuana dispensaries. Currently, only 1,000 total patients in the state are able to access dispensaries.

The measure will also increase possession limits for dispensaries, allow them to deliver medical marijuana to patients, and permit naturopaths to certify patients for the program. The bill was amended by the House to initiate two studies: one to explore the possibility of adding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for the state's medical marijuana program, and one to evaluate the potential impact of making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol.

"The House and Senate should be commended for taking action to ensure seriously ill Vermonters have legal access to medical marijuana," said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

Vermont: Marijuana Decriminalization Takes Effect Monday, July 1

I(PotLeaf)VT

Criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession will be replaced with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Legislation adopted this year to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession will go into effect on Monday. Vermont is the 17th state in the nation to decriminalize or legalize marijuana possession.

“This is a much-needed step forward toward a more sensible marijuana policy,” said Matt Simon, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbied in support of the legislation. “Nobody should be subjected to life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.”

H. 200, introduced by Rep. Christopher Pearson (P-Burlington) with a tripartisan group of 38 co-sponsors, removes criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replaces them with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Those under age 21 will be required to undergo substance abuse screening. State Attorney General William Sorrell and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn testified in support of the measure, which was signed into law by Gov. Peter Shumlin on June 6.

“There is still work to be done and support is growing for more comprehensive marijuana policy reform,” Simon said. “Until marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, sales will remain uncontrolled and profits will benefit illegal actors instead of legitimate, taxpaying businesses.

Vermont: First Two Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Open; Third One Planned

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana patients in Vermont, for the first time, can buy cannabis without breaking the law.

State-licensed medicinal cannabis facility Champlain Valley Dispensary officially opened for business in Burlington on Monday, just a few days after Vermont Patients Alliance opened in Montpelier, reports Sam Hemingway at the Burlington Free Press.

Both dispensaries are open three days a week. A third shop is planned for Brandon. The medical marijuana outlets arrive two years after the Vermont Legislature passed a law allowing their existence, and nine months after the two businesses were licensed by the state.

Proprietor Shane Lynn of Champlain Valley Dispensary said he'd hoped to open sooner, but hurdles including a requirement that he and his employees undergo FBI background checks took longer than expected.

"The state asked the FBI to do a background check, but the FBI couldn't do one for some reason," Lynn said. "They needed a code for it. So that took three or four weeks to determine what code to use. There were a bunch of unknowns for both the state and us."

Each dispensary is required to grow its own marijuana in a secure environment. Patients need proof from the state that they are authorized to buy cannabis, then they make an appointment with the dispensary before showing up, or they won't be allowed inside.

Vermont: Legislature Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Measure

There is a truth that must be heard!Governor Peter Shumlin Expected To Sign Bill Into Law

Proposal backed by tripartisan group of legislators and state's top law enforcement officials will replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

State lawmakers gave final approval Monday to a measure that will decriminalize possession of limited amounts of marijuana in Vermont. The bill will now go to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is expected to sign it into law in coming weeks, at which time Vermont will become the 17th state in the nation to decriminalize or legalize marijuana.

“We applaud the Vermont Legislature for adopting this much-needed legislation and setting an example for other states in the region and around the country,” said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “The exceptionally broad support demonstrated for this measure reflects the progress our nation is making toward adopting a new and more sensible approach to marijuana policy.

“The days of criminalizing people simply for using a substance less harmful than alcohol are coming to an end,” Simon said.

Vermont: Senate Committee Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

There is a truth that must be heard!Proposal supported by state's top law enforcement officials would replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Vermont Senate Committee on Judiciary approved a bill 4-1 on Wednesday that would decriminalize possession of limited amounts of marijuana. It will now be considered by the full Senate. The House of Representatives gave final approval to the bill on April 16.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn testified in favor of the bill, and Gov. Peter Shumlin has also expressed support for such a proposal.

"Vermont is another step closer to a more sensible marijuana policy, and the change cannot come soon enough,” said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “People should not be branded as criminals simply for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and there are certainly more serious crimes for law enforcement officials to address.

“I hope the Senate will join their colleagues in the House, the state’s top law enforcement officials, and the people of Vermont in supporting this common sense legislation,” Simon said.

Vermont: House of Representatives Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

There is a truth that must be heard!

Proposal supported by state's top law enforcement officials would replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Vermont House of Representatives on Friday approved a bill 98-44 that would decriminalize possession of limited amounts of marijuana. The bill is scheduled for another House vote next week before moving forward to the Senate.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn testified in favor of the bill, and Gov. Peter Shumlin has also expressed support for such a proposal.

"Vermont is another step closer to adopting a more sensible approach to marijuana policy," said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The support demonstrated by members of the House reflects that of the state's top law enforcement officials and the voters."

H. 200, introduced by Rep. Christopher Pearson (P-Burlington) with a tripartisan group of 38 co-sponsors, would remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Those under age 21 who are caught with marijuana would be required to undergo substance abuse screening.

Vermont: House Committee Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

(Illustration: The Daily Chronic)Proposal supported by state's top law enforcement officials would replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Vermont House Committee on Judiciary approved on a 9-2 vote Wednesday a bill that would decriminalize possession of limited amounts of marijuana. The full House is expected to vote on the measure on Friday.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn testified in favor of the bill, and Governor Pete Shumlin has also expressed support for such a proposal.

"The people of Vermont and the state's top law enforcement officials agree that it is time to adopt a more sensible approach to marijuana policy," said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Police and prosecutors have more important things to worry about than arresting and prosecuting adults simply for possessing a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol."

H. 200, introduced by Rep. Christopher Pearson (B-Burlington), with a tri-partisan group of 38 cosponsors, would remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Those under age 21 would be required to perform community service and to attend a drug awareness and safety program.

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