Vermont Senate gives initial OK to recreational cannabis sales

Vermont’s Senate is poised to give final approval to legislation establishing a commercial recreational marijuana market, after giving a preliminary thumbs-up by a lopsided 23-5 margin.

The bill will receive a final Senate vote – probably on March 1 – before heading to the House, where it is expected to run into more resistance.

Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, also represents a major hurdle. He has indicated he likely would veto the bill if it passes both chambers.

Scott reluctantly signed an adult-use legalization bill last year, but that measure allows only home cultivation and possession.

As a result, businesses have found themselves limited to providing services and goods to home growers and consulting services.

The Senate bill would enable a commercial market to launch during the first half of 2021.

According to a summary prepared by the Marijuana Policy Project, the measure would include:

  • Licensing priority to Vermont businesses, including existing medical marijuana dispensaries and businesses that are environmentally sustainable and/or owned by minorities or women.
  • Preference to small cultivators during the initial licensing round in an effort to support small, local farmers.
  • A limit of one license of any type, at one location, for each applicant.
  • A retail sales tax of 10%. Municipalities that allow retail stores could establish a separate 1% sales tax.

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