This article by Luke Nathan originally appeared Jan. 9 in the Bennington Banner.
MONTPELIER — Vermont Attorney General T. J. Donovan, legislative leaders and advocates gathered Thursday at the Statehouse to press for the adoption this year of a bill that would establish a tax-and-regulate system for commercial cannabis.
“After four years of further study and deliberation … it seems clear to me that, in the year 2020, there is no state in the U.S. that is more ready to regulate cannabis sales than Vermont,” said Matt Simon, political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a national nonprofit.
Donovan echoed the sentiment, contending it is “way past time” to create a legal marketplace for the drug. “It’s good for consumer protection, it’s good for public health, it’s good for public safety and it’s good for the state of Vermont,” he said.
The Vermont Senate last year passed a legalization bill, S.54, by a vote of 23 to 5. The bill is now being considered by committees in the House.
Donovan lamented that, although Vermont law allows adults to possess small amounts of cannabis legally, it is “absolutely silent on how they obtain it.”
Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, a sponsor of S.54, said that by failing to establish a legal marketplace, Vermont is effectively “shipping tax dollars out of state.”
In Williamstown, Massachusetts, just over the Vermont border, Sears said, there are now two retail cannabis shops. “I would guarantee that many of their customers are from Vermont and New York,” he said.
Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, D-Bradford, who chairs the House Committee on Government Operations said she is “captaining” the cannabis bill’s passage in the lower chamber.
Read full article at the Bennington Banner.
(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)