Vermont has already enacted legislation legalizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes. (See Title 18, Chapter 86 Vermont Statutes Annotated). Patients with a debilitating medical condition may receive a State issued marijuana card permitting medicinal use. The Vermont Legislature is now considering broadening the law to permit marijuana for recreational purposes. Underlying this move is a study by the Rand Corporation showing that many Vermont residents regularly use marijuana and spend approximately $175 million per year on the black market in purchasing it. Taxing a $175 million dollar industry could yield enormous tax revenues for the State. If the State does legalized marijuana, what might such a law look like?
Vermont Senator, Jeanette K. White, has introduced bill (S. 241) which recently received a favorable report with recommendation of amendment by the Committee on Judiciary. This bill provides an insight as to what legalized marijuana may look like in Vermont. According to the bill, all civil penalties for possession of one ounce or less by a person 21 years of age or older would be eliminated. The law would also permit the cultivation and sale of marijuana through registered “marijuana cultivators”, licensed “marijuana establishments” and licensed “marijuana retailers”. However, use of marijuana in public places as well as operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana would still be illegal. Under the bill, a Cannabis Control Board within the Department of Public Safety would be responsible for rule making, administration and enforcement concerning registered commercial cannabis establishments.
It appears that legalized marijuana could be the law in Vermont as early as 2017. Many of the implications of such a law remain uncertain. Questions concerning legal use, cultivation or sale of marijuana should be directed to attorneys specializing in this area of the law.
Rand Corporation Considering Marijuana Legalization Insights for Vermont and Other Jurisdictions by Jonathan P. Caulkins, Beau Kilmer, Mark A. R. Kleiman, Robert J. MacCoun, Gregory Midgette, Pat Oglesby, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Peter H. Reuter