Residents of Vermont will soon start to notice cannabis dispensaries around their cities. Recently, lawmakers have legalized the sale of cannabis. As a result, the state will use tax revenue to enrich communities and education systems.
Step by Step
Vermont has been trying to completely legalize cannabis for quite some time now. Two years ago advocates we able to convince lawmakers enough to legalize cannabis to an extent. Unfortunately, when that bill passed, advocates were unable to successfully include storefront purchases.
On Wednesday, the missed opportunity finally became a reality. The House of Representatives voted 90-54 in favor of the legalization. Democratic Rep. John Gannon led the charge for advocates. He credits this triumph to the recent research studies conducted by the governor’s commission. Additionally, he believes he has finally figured out the most important element of this legalization.
“Since 2004, we have taken a step-by-step approach to reform,” said Gannon. “The key features of it though are as follows: consumer protection. It replaces an illicit market with a strictly regulated market, provides safe access to predictable and tested products, no access to cannabis establishments are allowed for anyone under the age of 21.”
One final vote is required before anything is officially finalized. It’s expected this last vote will go in favor of the legalization, as it is only a formality.
Details of the Bill
It will still take a little while for the bill to go into effect. When it does, a few things will be established through this bill. First, the bill would establish a market for commercial cannabis. THC must be below 30 percent for flower and below 60 percent for concentrates. Edibles must contain less than 50mg of THC per serving.
Another detail of the bill is the tax rate and where the tax revenue will go. As it stands, there will be a 14 percent excise tax, a six percent sales tax, and no local tax. This tax rate could potentially change by the final vote.
Much of the discussion was concerned with where the money should be allocated. After much consideration, the house decided to dedicate a portion of the tax revenue to an educational fund, which would improve after school programs across the state. This amendment influenced many members of the opposition into voting in favor of the bill.
A state substance misuse treatment program will also receive 30 percent of tax revenue. This follows what many other states have done by using this money as a way to fix the problem from the source.
“Today’s historic vote, the Vermont House has affirmed what most Vermonters have long known: the War on Drugs approach to cannabis has failed,” said attorney advocate David Silberman.
Additionally, the language within legal documents will also be replaced in an attempt to restore the culture. For example, the term marijuana is often viewed as a derogatory word. From now on lawmakers will refer to the substance as cannabis, a more accepted term.
It’s been a long-fought battle for Vermont. Even though cannabis has been around for a few years now, it will be a much better experience now that residents can legally purchase the drug.
States who have yet to legalize cannabis should attempt to mirror what Vermont is currently doing. The legalization of cannabis would be much more supported if stipulations are made to appoint money to after school programs and communities hit by the war on drugs.
Residents of the state, who are largely in favor of this legalization, will no have the power to buy cannabis at their own will. The United States is slowly becoming one step closer to national legalization with this small step.