Enactment of Vermont marijuana sales law earns praise, raises concerns

Vermont just legalized the sale of cannabis and it took no time for people to respond to the news.  

Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday allowed S.54 to become law without his signature. Vermont will have a market for cannabis with stipulations, including a 14% excise tax on retail sales and the ability for towns and cities to institute zoning restrictions on production.

The laws enactment drew praise and raised concerns 

More:Legal in Vermont: Cannabis bill that allows (and taxes) retail sales becomes law

“The significance of Vermont’s decision to legalize and regulate cannabis sales, especially in a state with a Republican governor and through the legislative process, cannot be overstated,” said Steven Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project, in a statement. 

“The fact that Vermont accomplished this through the legislative process is also incredibly important because it shows that representative, democratic government is up to this challenge and is proving responsive to average citizens,” he wrote.

Hawkins described the law’s enactment as “a historic move that adds to the momentum of our movement.”

Matt Simon, the New England political director of the project, said in a statement that lawmakers across the country “should strive to emulate Vermont’s successful example.”  

Smart Approaches to Marijuana had different perspective on the new law.

“Today, the children of Vermont lost out in favor of an addiction-for-profit industry,

President Kevin Sabet said in his statement. “We are greatly disappointed in Governor Scott, who has been so steadfast in his pro-public health and safety stance, would allow the marijuana industry to expand into Vermont.”

Sabet indicated the group will focus its efforts on the Legislature, with the hopes that it will “pass common sense proposals to protect public health and safety, such as measures to deter stoned driving.” 

Scott, in his letter to Secretary of the Senate John Bloomer Jr., recognized efforts undertaken by legislators, as well as the work that remains: 

“I know it is difficult to take on these complex issues remotely and during this unprecedented pandemic. Again, I thank the legislators who worked to move toward me over the past two years on this issue. Nevertheless, the Legislature has much more work to do to ensure equity in this new policy and to prevent their work from becoming a public health problem for current and future generations. For these reasons, I am allowing this bill to become law without my signature.” 

Contact Maleeha Syed at mzsyed@freepressmedia.com or 802-495-6595. Follow her on Twitter @MaleehaSyed89

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