The Vermont Capitol Building in Montpelier, Vermont photographed on a colorful, autumn afternoon.

Harshil Shah

Vermont Cannabis Sales Bill Likely Dead Until Next Year

The Vermont bill to create a taxed and regulated system for adult-use cannabis sales is likely dead until lawmakers — some saying they don’t want to rush the policy-making process — bring it up again next year.

Full story after the jump.

Legislative plans to pass cannabis tax-and-regulate laws in Vermont have stalled and are likely dead for the session, VT Digger reports. The bill is currently before the House Ways and Means Committee and, while Democratic House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski called the situation “fluid,” she indicated even getting the bill to the floor for a vote is “looking less and less likely.”

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson told VT Digger that creating a legal cannabis market is not one of her top issues and she is willing to wait until next year to pass the legislation.

“My attitude all along on that bill is that we need to be thorough on the policy. The policy needs to drive the timeline, the timeline cannot drive the policy.” – Johnson, to VT Digger

Republican Gov. Phil Scott has promised not to support any tax-and-regulate bill that does not include provisions for roadside testing for cannabis impairment and told NECN that the state could wait to pass the reforms until next year. Scott has also indicated he believes the bill as written violates the state constitution because it doesn’t allow governors the authority to determine the makeup of the panel to regulate the industry.

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, who supports cannabis legalization and taxed-and-regulated sales, told VT Digger that “a few people at the top of the House” are the real challenge in getting the bill passed.

“It’s clearly a missed opportunity to bring the underground market above ground, generate revenue to put towards prevention, highway safety, and invest in any number of things,” he said in the report.

The Ways and Means Committee has only had the bill since the beginning of the month but Committee Chair Janet Ancel, a Democrat, said she had concerns that taxes would be used to run the Cannabis Control Commission for the first two or three years while the industry matures and tax revenues derived from it are able to foot the bill of about $1 million per year.

Cannabis legalization took effect in Vermont last June but the reforms did not include a legalized industry. Vermont is still the only state to enact adult-use legalization via the legislative process.

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