Marijuana

Vermont Legislature Becomes First In Nation to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Bill now heads to Gov. Phil Scott.

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The Vermont House passed legislation today that would remove all criminal and civil penalties for adults over 21 who possess one ounce or less of marijuana, making Vermont the first state in the nation to pass a legalization measure through its legislature rather than by ballot initiative. The law, passed by the Vermont Senate earlier this month, would also allow adults to grow their own plants. It does not allow for taxation and regulation, which means no selling and no buying. If Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signs the legislation, a prohibition on public consumption would also remain in place.

"I'll take a look at the bill, but I've been pretty clear I'd like to see some improvements to ensure a structure in place to protect public safety in Vermont," Scott told MyNBC5. He also said the bill is not "a priority for Vermont." The Hill reports that Scott is expected to sign some version of the bill. The Vermont chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project is encouraging members to contact Scott's office.

Vermont's legislature has been progressing toward legalization since 2013, when both houses passed, and Gov. Peter Shumlin signed, a decriminalization bill. That law changed possession of one ounce or less from a criminal penalty to a fine. The Vermont Senate then passed a legalization bill in 2016 (the House did not). The senate passed another version of the bill this month, and the House nearly closed out this year's session without voting on it.

A 2014 report from the marijuana policy analysts at RAND Corporation estimated that Vermont is home to 80,000 past-month marijuana users, and that the state's marijuana market was worth somewhere between $125 million and $225 million annually. Today's legislation also tasks the legislature with forming a committee to study options for tax-and-regulate, a la California and Washington.

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  1. That’s interesting. I haven’t (and can’t at the moment) clicked through to the legislation, but it looks like it doesn’t legalize any structure for selling marijuana, but only addresses possession. Given that you’re not allowed to possess more than an ounce, selling it (keeping stock) probably remains illegal.

    1. Given that you’re not allowed to possess more than an ounce, selling it (keeping stock) probably remains illegal.

      One ounce per shareholder, while onerous, seems… workable/functional.

      1. A reasonable grower will get more than an ounce from a single plant. So merely having the plant will put them outside of the law. It’s a bullshit law.

        1. Officer K9 can’t tell if he’s smelling a single grain of “shake” or a tractor trailer load so the law should put an end to dogs issuing search warrants.

          No tax and no regulation (and no possession limit) is what we should be striving for. I believe that’s what they did in D.C.

          1. Agreed. I guess they can charge sales tax like other products but that’s it. I come across people who say legalize it and tax the hell out of it. When I say so you want the black \market to continue, I get a blank stare.

        2. Yeah, it sounds like the reverse of the prostitution laws that criminalize the buyers but not the sellers. This will make it legal for people to buy one ounce or less from a dealer, but the dealer will still be a criminal.

        3. A reasonable grower will get more than an ounce from a single plant.

          A ignoring other market distortions, a reasonable grower would grow his crop year-round in a better climate and ship it in just like oranges or tomatoes. Also, marijuana wouldn’t be the only crop to harvest early/late/not at all in order to control supply/demand.

          The law could be better, but it’s a legalization/repeal so it’s clearly not the worst.

          1. Do seeds count? I understand (or presume to) that they aren’t desirable for consumption, but, if an officer of the law found you with 1.1 oz. (or 50 lbs.) of only seeds would you be in violation of the law? Seems like you could make (artisanal) marijuana sprouts a thing unless you could get hauled in just for having several ounces of seeds.

  2. Uh, you’d have to get me high to live in Vermont.

    1. Vermont, the other, smaller Wisonsin!

    2. So, in order for me to live in Vermont, I need to get you high?

  3. Well, good for Vermont.

    What else do they have going for them?

    1. they aren’t mississippi

      1. Not exactly a high bar to cross there.

    2. Plenty of munchies if potheads crave maple syrup and entertainment if they wanna go cow tipping.

    3. You could live in NH and drive across the bordee to light up on the slopes.

    4. Good gun laws.

  4. It does not allow for taxation and regulation, which means no selling and no buying.

    Uh, what? It could very well be that sales are still prohibited, but the second thing doesn’t *necessarily* follow from the first.

  5. I guarantee Montpelier is going to find a way to fuck this up.

  6. Vermont Legislature Becomes First In Nation to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

    Too bad it takes a governor’s signature to make it, you know, the law:

    “I’ll take a look at the bill,” Governor Scott told MyNBC5. He also said the bill is not “a priority for Vermont.”

    Oh.

  7. Goddamn bearded gingers.

  8. “I’ll take a look at the bill, but I’ve been pretty clear I’d like to see some improvements to ensure a structure in place to protect public safety in Vermont,”

    We’ve haven’t figured out exactly how want to attach ourselves to the host. We’ll wait for the market to present the ideal place for us to sink into it and start sucking.

  9. This is good news.

    Here in Minnesota, we had a slight glimmer of hope this last spring that legislation would move its way through the legislature, but it went nowhere in the GOP-led legislature. Even if it had passed, the governor (D) says he’d veto it (however, “if there’s really an overwhelming popular will for that, that would be something to consider,”; “overwhelming popular will” = “consider”) due to law enforcement opposition. And we don’t have a ballot initiative practice, so the legislature really is the only way through.

    In other words, the only foreseeable path to legalization is through the usual mechanism of resentment towards Wisconsin having something we don’t.

    1. And by last spring, I clearly mean late this last winter, since we’re hitting 60’s now and it’s summer time.

    2. Sadly since wisconsin doesn’t have voter initiatives either it’s gonna be a while. Somebody has introduced it a couple times to crickets

  10. “Today’s legislation also tasks the legislature with forming a committee to study options for tax-and-regulate, a la California and Washington.”
    What’s Colorado, chopped liver?

    1. I read on the internet that Colorado isn’t so much mountains, cowboys and Republican freedom so much as proggies and SJW pansies, just like Montana. Truth, or MSM propaganda?

  11. Pretty sure New Hampshire was the first legislature to pass recreational legalization, years ago even before CO and WA. It was vetoed by the governor.

    1. Correction, it was medical, not recreational, although decrim has passed the House several times: http://bit.ly/2qX77i5

  12. Yay Vermont. But it’s still only a limited form of permission if there are quantity limits and you cannot exchange it for things of value.

  13. If there isn’t a roadside impairment test for marijuana, that’s hardly a new development.

    It’s not as if people are suddenly going to start driving impaired–but they never did before. The police have presumably been arresting people for driving under the influence of marijuana for decades–and even without a roadside test, I bet there are plenty of convictions on the books, too.

    Here’s a good test: If the police talk to a driver, ask for his or her license and registration, and can’t see any evidence that the driver is impaired, then that’s a pretty good indication that the driver in question isn’t impaired.

    Drivers with glassy eyes, reeking of cannabis, with incoherent speech, etc. have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence since the drug war first began. If the lack of a road side test makes it hard to get impaired drivers off the road, then how has Vermont been arresting impaired drivers for the last few decades?

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