Vermont is set to become the 11th state with legal adult-use cannabis sales, after Governor Phil Scott on Wednesday announced that he would allow Senate Bill 54 to become law without his signature.
In 2018, Vermont legalized possession and home cultivation, but did not legalize sales or cultivation. It legalized medical marijuana in 2004, though the first in-state dispensary only opened in 2013.
Senate Bill 54 establishes “a comprehensive regulatory system for the production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products in Vermont. The bill creates the Cannabis Control Board as the independent regulatory authority for a commercial cannabis market.”
Vermont now joins Illinois as only the second state to legalize cannabis through its legislature. In September, the Vermont legislature gave approval to a bill to allow the automatic expungements of marijuana convictions.
Under the bill, cannabis will be taxed at 10% with a potential 1% local option tax for municipalities that decide to allow cannabis dispensaries. Under the Cannabis Control Board there will be five types of licensing available: cultivator licensing, wholesaler licensing, product manufacturer license, retailer license, and a testing laboratory license.
Regulators will only begin licensing cannabis-related business beginning in the Spring of 2022.
The bill will prioritize licensing for people with an existing medical cannabis dispensary license, applicants who “would foster social justice and equality in the cannabis industry by being a minority or women-owned businesses,” as well as applicants who have specific plans “to recruit, hire, and implement a development ladder for minorities, women, or individuals who have historically been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.”
The bill states that cannabis retailers may in a single transaction “provide one ounce of cannabis or the equivalent in cannabis products” to a person over age 21.
The bill does not allow the public consumption of cannabis.
Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association said of the bill’s passing, “regulating cannabis in the Green Mountain State will create jobs and much-needed tax revenue while finally providing resident cannabis consumers with a safe, reliable, and legal source of cannabis within their own borders.”
Carly Wolf, the State policies Coordinator for the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said “senate Bill 54 represents an opportunity to bring common-sense controls to the adult-use marijuana marketplace, which is currently unregulated, unlicensed, and untaxed.”