The Vermont capitol building surrounded by snow on a sunny, winter day.

David Berkowitz

Vermont Legislature Approves Competing Cannabis Legalization Measures

Both houses of Vermont’s legislature have passed competing cannabis legalization bills but no further advances are expected as the measures are too far apart and the state’s session ends on Saturday, according to a Vermont Press Bureau report.

The House measure, which reportedly passed 74-68 at 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, would allow adults 21-and-older to possess up to 1 ounce of flower and cultivate two mature and four immature cannabis plants. The Senate proposal, which passed the body April 20, is a tax-and-regulate scheme that would create a contemporary cannabis industry in the Green Mountain State.

An amendment to the House bill by Democratic Rep. Jean O’Sullivan would have put the measure more in line with the Senate bill; that amendment, however, was rejected 42-99. Other amendments to the House measure were also rejected, including a provision to retain civil penalties for possession but removing criminal penalties for possessing cannabis plants; one that would delay implementation of the law until law enforcement has a test to check for cannabis impairment; and another that would have created cannabis education programs in schools.

House lawmakers did approve an amendment that would add cannabis to the law prohibiting open alcohol containers in vehicles.

It’s likely that the proposals will be taken up again by the legislature during the second half of the legislative biennium but it’s unclear whether Republican Gov. Phil Scott would sign any bill legalizing cannabis use.

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