By Guy Page
S. 54, “an act relating to the regulation of cannabis,” was introduced in the Vermont Senate on Jan. 24 and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Judiciary plans to take testimony on S.54 Wednesday and Thursday mornings this week.
Sponsors are Sen. Richard Sears, Sen. Timothy Ashe, Sen. Joseph Benning, Sen. Christopher Pearson, Sen. John Rodgers, Sen. Jeanette White, Sen. Rebecca Balint, Sen. Philip Baruth, Sen. Brian Campion, Sen. Alison Clarkson, Sen. Ann Cummings, Sen. Ruth Hardy, Sen. Cheryl Hooker, Sen. Andrew Perchlik, Sen. Richard Westman.
According to the lengthy Introductory Statement, S.54 “proposes to establish a comprehensive regulatory system for the production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products in Vermont. The bill proposes the following:
- Creates the Cannabis Control Board as the independent regulatory authority for a commercial cannabis market. The Board is responsible for adopting regulations and administering a licensing program, including compliance and enforcement, for cannabis establishments. Five types of licenses are available: cultivator, product manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, and testing laboratory. Applicants are limited to obtaining a maximum of one type of each license. Applicants are not required to be Vermont residents, but residency will be considered in prioritizing issuance of licenses. Application and license fees fund the Board in performance of its duties.
- Taxes Cannabis at ten percent with a potential one percent local option tax for municipalities that choose to host a cannabis retailer.
- Gives Municipalities authority to require municipal permits for a cannabis establishment and may prohibit the operation of a cannabis establishment or a specific type of cannabis establishment within the municipality by majority vote of those present and voting at an annual or special meeting warned for the purpose.
- Takes effect 1/1/2021 – On Jan. 1, 2021, new statutes, as well as rules adopted by the Board, governing the Medical Cannabis Registry and Medical Cannabis Dispensaries take effect, and those programs transfer from the Department of Public Safety to the Board.
- Directs the Office of Legislative Council to change “marijuana” to “cannabis” throughout the statutes as needed for consistency with the act.
The following people are scheduled to testify this week:
Wednesday, January 30
8:45 AM S.54 – An act relating to the regulation of cannabis
Michele Childs, Legislative Counsel, Office of Legislative Council
Laura Subin, Director, J.D., Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana
Shayne Lynn, Executive Director, Champlain Valley Dispensary, Inc.
Monique McHenry, Executive Director, VT Patients Alliance
Ed Abrahams, Vice Chair, Great Barrington Rhode island Select board – Phone
10:15 AM S.54 – An act relating to the regulation of cannabis
Mark Levine, Commissioner, M.D., Vermont Department of Health
Thomas D. Anderson, Commissioner, Department of Public Safety
Craig Bolio, Deputy Commissioner, VT Department of Taxes
Cary Giguere, Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
Thursday, January 31
8:45 AM S.54 – An act relating to the regulation of cannabis
Kay Doyle, Commissioner, MA Cannabis Commission – Invited
Jean-Francois Bergeron , Provincial Liquor Board – Invited
Matt Simon, Marijuana Policy Project
10:30 AM S.54 – An act relating to the regulation of cannabis
David Nathan, MD, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation – Phone
Andrew Freedman, Consultant, Freedman and Koski – Invited
T.J. Donovan, Invited, Vermont Attorney General, Attorney General’s Office
Gwynn Zakov, Municipal Policy Advocate, Vermont League of Cities and Towns – Invited
Right to abortion bill to get vote in House Human Services Committee
H.57, the House bill that would write unrestricted abortion into state law, is meeting resistance from some self-professed “pro-choice” legislators. They are concerned H.57 goes much further than Roe V. Wade in its protection of legal abortion.
These legislators include at least one member of House Human Services, the committee scheduled to conclude testimony on H.57 and vote it out of committee on Thursday. They also include a former sponsor of the bill, Rep. Patrick Seymour, R-Sutton.
“I was misled,” Seymour told Headliners this morning. He signed on to the bill because he had been told it merely protects the status quo if Roe v. Wade is overturned. He withdrew his sponsorship after learning that H.57 goes far beyond Roe, guaranteeing unrestricted abortion through all nine months of pregnancy and declaring the fetus to have no individual rights.
Beginning at 9:15 AM Wednesday morning, several people — including known opponents of H.57 — are scheduled to testify before Human Services in Room 46. Opponents worry that unrestricted abortion could lead to abhorrent practices such as fetal research and body part sale, even as the Legislature considers bills to protect animals from these same practices. Scheduled testifiers include:
- Dr. Erica Gibson, Adolescent Medicine Division and Vt. Child Health Improvement Project, Department of Pediatrics and Vermont Child Health Improvement Program
- Joseph Nasca M.D., Pediatrician
- Sharon Toborg, Vermont Right to Life
- Pete Gummere, St. Johnsbury
- Samantha Sheehan, Communication Manager, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
- Patricia Blair
- Sarah Robinson, Deputy Director, Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
- Joe Patrissi, South Burlington
- Cary Brown, Executive Director, Vermont Commission on Women
- Brynn Hare, Legislative Counsel, Office of Legislative Council
Reports that Gov. Phil Scott has promised to sign H.57 into law are unfounded. A senior aide to Gov. Scott told Headliners this morning, “We have not weighed in on the bill. It’s too early to say. We’re going to wait and see.”
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.