By Guy Page
Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday he did not recommend language in a Senate bill that would seem to allow Big Marijuana companies to bypass local voters deciding whether marijuana retail stores may operate in their town.
S.25 would allow the state Cannabis Control Board to approve retail cannabis stores that are part of an ‘integrated license.’ An integrated license holder would grow, harvest, refine and sell marijuana as part of one “integrated” operation. The provision appears to cut out permission from local voters, a hard-won provision of the retail marijuana law passed last year.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Vermont Daily read from S.25 a section that ‘allows the Cannabis Control Board discretion as to whether to grant any integrated licenses.’ Scott was then asked, “Opponents are concerned that, Big Marijuana – the operations that grow, produce and sell marijuana in one integrated operation – would be able to bypass the local voters. Are you aware of this proposed change and what do you think of it?”
Gov. Scott replied: “There are a lot of bills that go nowhere…we’ll see what happens with this one. I would hope that we will adhere to the law that was put in place and not make any substantial changes.” The governor said he has recommended changes to the commercial cannabis law but “that isn’t one of them.” His administration is still assembling the Cannabis Control Board, he said.
S.25 is co-sponsored by Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia), Sen. Chris Pearson (D/P Chittenden), and Sen. Jeanette White (D/Windham). It would also:
- Ask the Cannabis Control Board to reduce licensing fees for minorities and others who historically have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.
- Fund police training on roadside impairment testing;
- Require a quarter of “flower” sold by licensees to come from small growers;
- Spend 30% of cannabis excise tax revenue, not to exceed $10 million, to fund substance misuse prevention.
- Set March, 2022 as the final “opt-in” deadline for towns to approve retail marijuana operations. This provision apparently refers to retail-only operations, which are not part of an integrated operation favored by the corporate marijuana growing industry.
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.