This November, the public is set to vote on several referendum measures regarding the legalization of cannabis across the country, with the most significant one being in New Jersey. However, the push for a legalized America is moving at a brisk pace, with some states putting forth bills today.
According to a statement released by the National Cannabis Industry Association, the Vermont legislature sent a bill to the governor’s desk last week to legalize and regulate adult cannabis use. Senate Bill 54 went to Gov. Phil Scott’s desk, and it will “regulate cannabis for adults and allow for legal commercial cultivation, processing, testing, and sales.”
As per the statement, on Wednesday, Scott allowed the bill to become law without signing it. The governor also signed a bill that paves the way for easier expungement of past cannabis convictions in the state.
The new law creates a Cannabis Control Board which will license and regulate retailers, cultivators, product manufacturers, wholesalers, labs, and integrated licenses. According to the statement released by the NCIA, the bill gives priority to “existing medical cannabis providers, women, and people from marginalized communities who have been disproportionately harmed by prohibition.”
The bill also makes mention of education, incentives for small businesses, and environmental sustainability plans. As per the NCIA’s statement, sales of cannabis will begin in Vermont in 2022.
“This is a great day for the entire state of Vermont,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder, and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association in a statement. “Regulating cannabis in the Green Mountain State will create jobs and much-needed tax revenue while finally providing resident cannabis consumers with a safe, reliable, and legal source of cannabis within their own borders.”
Vermont was the first state to use the legislature to make possession and limited cultivation of cannabis legal. The state legislature did so a few years ago in 2018. Still, that law did not regulate legal, commercial sales of recreational cannabis. Because of that, the illicit market continued to thrive in Vermont, while residents of the state were encouraged to purchase legal cannabis in other states.
As the NCIA noted in a press release, cannabis is legal in neighboring states such as Massachusetts and Maine. Moreover, Canada is close by as well, where cannabis is legal at the federal level. In New York and New Hampshire, lawmakers are also considering creating regulated cannabis markets to avoid similar issues.
NCIA noted that “An economic impact report released in August by Vicente Sederberg, LLP estimates that Vermont will reap tens of millions of dollars annually in adult use cannabis tax revenue.”
Furthermore, they write: “Cannabis is now legal and regulated for adults in eleven states and the territories of CNMI and Guam. Adult possession and limited home cultivation are legal in the District of Columbia. Thirty-three states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.”