River and farmlands in the Vermont countryside.

Shawn Freebern

Vermont Lawmakers Eye Cannabis Tax-and-Reg as Session Nears Close

Lawmakers in Vermont’s House are pushing for legislation to implement a taxed-and-regulated cannabis industry as the session nears a close, Vermont Public Radio reports. The push has support from Democrats, Republicans, and Progressives.

In January, the Legislature legalized cannabis use for adults but the reforms did not create an industry. Last year the state Senate voted to approve a taxed-and-regulated legalization regime but that bill didn’t reach the House.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Diana Gonzalez, suggested the funds from the industry could be used to help fund opioid addiction treatment facilities and programs.

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, a Progressive, said he began reaching out to Republicans following the passage of January’s legalization measure to push for their support on tax-and-regulate.

“And quite a few said, ‘now that it’s legal, I think tax-and-regulate’s a better model.’ So if Progressives, the Republicans that think this is the better way, and the many Democrats that inherently support this come together, I think we have a majority.” – Zuckerman to VPR

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, a Republican, is less optimistic. She indicated that many House lawmakers are uncomfortable with pursuing the broad reforms as the session closes.

“I think at this point it’s far too large of a policy change to be jumping into the last week or two of the session.” – Johnson to VPR

Moreover, even if it passes Gov. Phil Scott could veto it as he did the first legalization measure that reached his desk.

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