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A bill to tax and regulate marijuana in Vermont is heading for a full Senate vote this week after canceling the last of the committee's victories on Tuesday.

Vermont became the first state in the country to legalize marijuana through legislative action – as opposed to voters by way of an electoral measure – last year. The law currently authorizes the possession of at most one ounce and the cultivation of two adult plants by adults. The state does not yet have a system of taxation and regulation of marijuana markets.

The details of the structure and operation of this system were discussed around two bills in the House and Senate. Bill 196 was approved by more than one-third of the members of the House and referred to the House Committee on Housing, Military and General Affairs.

Senate Bill 54 is a similar bill that would create a cannabis control commission as a state control body for the legal marijuana market and create five types of licenses for various businesses. If it is approved by lawmakers and signed, the Board of Directors will be formed on July 1 of this year. Licenses for retailers should be issued no later than April 1, 2021.

Following the previous approval of the judicial and financial committees this month, the Senate Credit Committee voted 7-0 to advance the bill on Tuesday. He is now heading to the entire Senate, where a meeting could be held as early as Thursday.

A budget note issued by the Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office disclosed the estimated costs for the council as well as the anticipated 16% excise tax revenue recommended by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Civil servants expect revenues of $ 3.8 to $ 7.4 million in the first year and $ 8.6 to $ 16.6 million by 2024.

For the recommended Cannabis Control Board, consisting of five members, costs are estimated at $ 860,000 for fiscal year 2020, $ 1,010,000 in 2021 and $ 940,000 in 2022.

Governor Phil Scott (right), who signed the law on the legalization of cannabis, non-commercial, said he would consider approving legislation to tax and regulate sales. of marijuana if lawmakers funded education and prevention measures. He is also concerned about the lack of technology to detect impaired driving caused by cannabis.

The Senate has passed three bills legalizing retail sales of marijuana, while the House has so far not been able to do so.

Dave Silberman, a lawyer and advocate for drug policy reform in Middlebury, said he was confident the bill would be passed this time as well.

"Half of the people already sponsoring the bill and the bill having been significantly improved in committee on important aspects such as promoting equity in the cannabis industry, it's pretty cautious to predict that S.54 will be easily adopted by the Senate with strong tripartite support, "he said." Based on previous polls and what new senators said about cannabis regulation during the election campaign, I'm expecting to between 24 and 26 yes, with only 4 to 6 opponents. "

Vermont Bill Legalizing Marijuana Sales Approved by Key Committee

Photo courtesy of Carlos Gracia.

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