Vermont House to Vote on Senate-Approved Marijuana Legalization | Off Message

Vermont House to Vote on Senate-Approved Marijuana Legalization


The Vermont House appears headed for a vote Wednesday on a Senate-passed bill to legalize possession of marijuana in 2018.

S.22 also calls for a commission to study how the state might eventually tax and regulate the drug. House Judiciary Committee Chair Maxine Grad (D-Moretown) said she'll ask her committee Wednesday to recommend the full House pass the bill.

"I will put this on the table and see what happens," Grad said Tuesday. "I'm pretty confident I have the votes [in committee] to concur. Then beyond that, I don't know."

The bill is up for consideration on the House calendar Wednesday, though delays are always possible. Lawmakers are planning to adjourn for the year this week.

The move is the latest twist in a long and winding path for marijuana legalization in the legislature. Advocates have indicated they believe this compromise measure will pass.

If the House goes along with Grad's recommendation — and Gov. Phil Scott signs on — Vermont would be the first state to legalize marijuana through legislation instead of by a public vote.

The Senate's bill would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, along with home growing of two mature plants and four seedlings. It would establish a commission to make recommendations to the legislature by year's end for how the state could tax and regulate legal sale of weed, which voters in both Massachusetts and Maine have approved.

Grad had initially been unreceptive to the Senate's study because she doesn't favor a tax-and-regulate model. But she said Tuesday she thinks the study is sensibly laid out in the bill.

"Whether you're for or against or neutral on tax and regulate, I think the commission will give us some good information," Grad said. "Nothing could happen until it comes back to the legislature."

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