By Guy Page
Tax and regulation of cultivation and retail sale of marijuana, S.54, is scheduled to be reviewed by the House Government Operations Committee at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The “walk-through” of the Senate bill will follow the committee’s Tuesday afternoon tour of the Champlain Valley Dispensary of medical marijuana. The committee agenda does not indicate if the visit will be to the main store on Steele St. in Burlington, the satellite in South Burlington, or the production facility in Milton.
Products advertised on the Champlain Valley Dispensary website include Cherry Pie, Capa Cookie, Dark Chocolate Brownie, Dark Chocolate Truffles, Ginger Molasses Cookie, Maple Lozenge, Sea Salt Caramels.
Trying to stop a legal drug from targeting underage Vermonters with tasty-sounding product names is one of the selling points for a bill the House approved last week. In the Democratic caucus Tuesday, Rep. Jessica Brumsted, D-Shelburne, urged legislators to support H.26, to restrict sales of youth-oriented tobacco “vaping” and “jule” products. “There are lots of flavors that only attract kids. Like chocolate banana. The stores are out [of stock],” Brumstead said. “They’re out because 18 year olds are buying like 35 starter kits.”
Despite the well-known appetite of children for cookies and brownies, few similar concerns have been publicly voiced about yummy-tasting brands of marijuana, some of which are concentrates known to induce psychotic episodes in teenagers. If it follows tobacco industry precedent, the marijuana industry will deny this branding would influence youth.
House Speaker Mitzi Johnson won’t be leading the charge for tax and regulate. Kit Norton of VTDigger reported in his 3/14 “Final Read” column, which like Headliners is available by free subscription:
“House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, said she is not committed to passing a marijuana tax and regulate bill this year and it is not a top priority. There are currently two tax and reg bills in the lower chamber, including one, S.54, passed by the Senate last month.”
The Gov. Ops. Committee this week also will discuss bills that are unlikely to pass this year because they did not survive the March 15 Crossover deadline, but could come up next year:
- H53, disturbing the Legislature (Rep. Pat Brennan)
- H49, municipal regulation of possession, use and manufacture of knives (Rep. Brennan)
- H88, requiring presidential candidate to disclose tax returns (Rep. Matthew Birong)
- H478, study of state apology and reparations for slavery (Rep. Brian Cina)
- H444, ranked choice voting (Rep. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, Rep. Laura Sibilia).
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.