MONTPELIER, VT — The Vermont Senate approved a bill on Friday that would regulate the production and sale of marijuana and eliminate penalties for personal possession and cultivation by adults 21 and older.
The Senate amended H. 167, an unrelated House-approved bill, to replace it with a revised version of a marijuana regulation bill that passed last year in the Senate and failed in the House.
The Senate also amended H. 167 to include the same home cultivation provision that is included in H. 170, a bill that has been making its way through the House. H. 170 would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and remove penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants.
The Senate proposal would allow unlimited small-scale cultivation licenses for producers no larger than 500 sq feet. The marijuana regulation bill that failed in the House last year, S. 241, did not include a home cultivation provision.
The Senate-amended version of H. 167 will receive one final vote before being sent back to the House for consideration.
“Most Vermonters think marijuana should be made legal for adults, and they’re looking to lawmakers to come up with a plan, said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We applaud the Senate for approving a thoughtful alternative to marijuana prohibition that would account for public health and improve public safety. We would love to see the House step up and join the Senate in supporting this sensible reform. If the House isn’t willing to support the Senate’s proposal, it at least needs to support its own Judiciary Committee’s plan and pass H. 170.”
Most Vermont voters are in favor of the policy changes proposed in H. 167 and H. 170, according to a survey conducted March 20-21 by Public Policy Polling. Fifty-seven percent support allowing adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana, and 54% support regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol. The results are available here.
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