MONTPELIER, VT — Vermont Senator David Zuckerman began the new year by introducing a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana sales to adults 21 and older.
If passed, Senate Bill 306 would impose a $50 per ounce tax on retail sales of marijuana to adults, who would also be allowed to possess up to two ounces, or grow up to three plants at home.
The bill would also adjust state laws to impose the same penalties on minors in possession of marijuana as currently exist for minors in possession of alcohol.
A similar bill, House Bill 499, was introduced last year and remains pending in the House, but has not seen any action since March. Vermont has a two-year legislative calendar, and that bill could be revisited in 2014.
Senator Zuckerman (P-Chittenden) says that he is hopeful that by introducing his bill legalization bill to the Senate this year, less than a year after the state legislature voted to decriminalize marijuana possession, he can at least advance the discussion — if not pass outright — marijuana legalization in the Green Mountain State.
“I think this is a building year, more than a likely passage year,” Zuckerman said, adding that he believes marijuana legalization in Vermont is inevitable within the next few years.
The Vermont legislature has been progressively advancing marijuana reform in recent years, and last year’s successful marijuana decriminalization bill was endorsed by the state’s Attorney General and faced limited opposition.
Vermont currently allows the medical use of marijuana, and the first two dispensaries in the state opened last summer.
“Marijuana is used all over the place. People still function in society,” Zuckerman said.
Zuckerman added that it was no coincidence that his bill was introduced the very day that retail marijuana sales began in Colorado.
“Vermont has a lot kindred feelings with Colorado. From the ski industry to the community spirit and the libertarian spirit at the same time, let me do with myself what I want,” he said.
If passed, applications for retail marijuana growers and retailers would be accepted beginning January 15, 2015. The bill is expected to be assigned to a committee when lawmakers reconvene in coming weeks.
In addition to the pending marijuana legalization bills, Vermont lawmakers will be looking in 2014 to remove a current 1,000 patient limit on medical marijuana dispensary patients, and adding post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions to the state’s medical marijuana program.