The Vermont House of Representatives cast a final vote (92-56) in favor of S. 54 — legislation that would legalize regulate, and tax cannabis sales. House and Senate negotiators reached a final agreement on the provisions of S. 54 earlier this week. The bill will require a final vote from the Senate before it proceeds to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott, who has not yet indicated whether he will sign it.
Key provisions of the bill include:
- Priority licensing for small cultivators
- Priority licensing for women and minority-owned businesses
- Independent lab testing of all cannabis sold to patients and adult consumers
- Creating a new independent commission to regulate medical and adult-use cannabis
- Requiring a search warrant prior to saliva testing, which could not be conducted roadside
The Legislature also appears poised to pass S. 234, a bill that would require the automatic expungement of all criminal records for past low-level cannabis possession offenses. The bill would also decriminalize possession of cannabis in amounts that are up to twice the legal limit for adults and reduce some cannabis penalties.
S. 234 passed the House in a final vote and will now return to the Senate for concurrence before it heads to the governor’s desk.
In 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize possession and cultivation of cannabis for adults’ use through the legislative process rather than through a voter initiative. However, Vermont remains one of only two U.S. jurisdictions where cannabis is legal but where adult-use sales are still illegal and unregulated. If S. 54 is enacted, Vermont would join 10 states that have laws regulating and taxing cannabis for adult use.