A proposal to legalize cannabis sales in Vermont and another one that provides automatic expungements for marijuana convictions have been pushed to the governor’s desk after a final Senate vote was conducted on Tuesday.
The state Senate approved the negotiated legislation with a 23-6 vote after the House of Representatives had approved it.
In 2018, Vermont legalized the cultivation of 2 marijuana plants and possession of a maximum of 29 grams of marijuana. However, no regulations that allow retail sales were put in place.
The governor of Vermont, Gov. Philip Brian Scott (R) has yet to explicitly confirm or deny whether he will put his signature on the S.54 measure but he admitted to being impressed last week on how the measure was received in the legislative process and noted that he would take that into account.
Apart from the marijuana sales legalization bill, the Senate also approved a separate bill that will issue automatic expungements of cannabis convictions as well as allow individuals to possess and grow more marijuana without being arrested. The House had passed the proposal earlier this month, meaning it’s also headed to the governor’s desk as well.
The proposed marijuana sales bill states that cannabis would be subject to the state’s 6% sales tax and an additional 14% excise tax. S.54 also highlights a few social equity provisions like helping individuals who have been adversely affected by the drug war and making cannabis business licenses for minorities a priority. Additionally, an independent regulatory commission will be in charge of promoting small business participation in the market.
A cannabis control commission would be established and would be responsible for the issuance of licenses to growers, retailers, manufacturers, labs and wholesalers. This body will also assume the role of the Department of Public Safety in regulating the state’s medical marijuana industry.
Additionally, flavored vape cartridges would be banned and a 30% THC limit would be imposed on marijuana flower while marijuana oil may only contain at most 60% THC.
A fiscal analysis that was done on the final bill shows that Vermont will generate roughly $13.3 million – $24.2 million in annual marijuana tax revenue by the Fiscal Year 2025. The Joint Fiscal Office estimates that licensing fees may generate an additional $650,000 in revenue each year. Municipalities that have cannabis businesses will also be allowed to impose additional local fees.
Industry watchers say sector players like The Alkaline Water Company Inc. (CSE: WTER) (NASDAQ: WTER) will be hoping that the governor puts the wishes of the people into consideration while deciding whether to enact or reject the marijuana policy reform bills before him.
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