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The Cannabis Catch-Up: Seeing Through the Haze

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This week's weed news in some ways paralleled the climax of the special counsel’s investigation into President Donald Trump.

Before you call me crazy, let me explain. It seemed like the last several days have given clarity to both things. Robert Mueller appears prepared to wrap up his investigation, while the Vermont Governor’s Advisory Marijuana Commission is finishing up its work.

Two completely different issues, I know. But news on both topics came in rapid fire this week. And by the time 2019 rolls around, we should know more about both.



This Monday, we’re expecting Gov. Phil Scott’s cannabis commission to turn in its final report. The panel held its last meeting on Wednesday, where much of the convo revolved around edibles and road safety, according to VTDigger.org. Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson repeated a position he’s held from the start: no legal sales until there’s a better way to test for impaired driving.

“If the experiences in Colorado and Washington are the experiences we have here, roadway deaths are going to go up, impaired driving is likely to go up,” Anderson said. “So to me it’s critical that we have that tool if we’re going down that path.”

As for edibles? The group seemed split on the issue, but the money folks, namely tax deputy commissioner Craig Bolio, worry that without including edibles in the market, the state won’t rake in enough tax revenue to cover costs. Another reason to include them? Because people will just make them anyway.

“I think the reality is, the increased cannabis sales is, a large part of it anyway, is due to edibles,” commission cochair Jake Perkinson said. “They would be subject to regulation and, if not, they would be part of the illicit market by default and we would end up in much the same situation that we are now with respect to cannabis in general.”

So will this report convince the governor to support legal weed sales in Vermont? Will the legislature try to push through a bill even without his support? We should know the answer to both questions very soon.

Before we get to the rest of the program, allow us to break in with a very important Public Service Announcement! Attorney General T.J. Donovan is cohosting an expungement clinic with Vermont Legal Aid on Friday, December 14, at the Winooski Community Justice Center, 27 W. Allen Street. It runs from 2 to 6 p.m. and costs $90, but qualifying applicants can get a fee waiver. For more info, contact Vermont Legal Aid at expungement@vtlegalaid.org or 802-424-4701. This is the first in a series of clinics that will be held around the state.

OK, back at it.

Here’s what else we read this week:

December 10:  This features mini-profiles of several women leading Vermont’s booming green wave. [Michelle A. L. Singer, Vermont Woman]

December 10: New Hampshire is an island surrounded by a sea of states that have legalized weed (Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine). Now, law enforcement officers are planning for what they expect will be an uptick in impaired driving. [Tim Callery, WMUR]

December 10: Cops in Manchester found 50 pounds of processed and unprocessed weed inside a barn. Total value? Upward of $200,000, cops say. [Christie Wisniewski, Bennington Banner]

December 11: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo could introduce a plan for legal weed in the Empire State in next year’s budget address. Estimates say adult-use cannabis could become a $3.1 billion market in New York. [Carl Campanile, New York Post]

December 12: A private Brattleboro weed-smoking club that hosted events such as a “Toke and Joke” standup comedy night has shut down. The owners were operating under a hazy provision in the state’s pot legalization law but closed the doors after the state Division of Liquor Control started poking around. [Elizabeth Hewitt, VTDigger]

December 12: The Vermont State Police will no longer use helicopters to try and find illicit weed farms. Instead, those resources will go toward the opiate epidemic. The team last flew a mission in 2015, a year when it located some 1,400 pot plants. [Peter Hirschfeld, Vermont Public Radio]

December 13: A Winooski green card holder is scheduled to be deported because of a 2016 criminal conviction for possessing between one and two ounces of weed. [Taylor Dobbs, Seven Days]

December 13: The U.S. Congress passed a Farm Bill that legalizes hemp. That’s big news for producers in Vermont and across the country. [Chavie Lieber, Vox]

December 13: A gas station in Portland, Maine, now also sells medical marijuana. “Fuel up on gas and grass” made it into this story’s headline. [Penelope Overton, Portland Press Herald]

December 13: The “gifting” trend has caught on in Michigan. An Ann Arbor entrepreneur started “Smoke’s Chocolate.” Buy a chocolate for $10 to $15 — and get some free weed on the side. Marc Bernard is now on hiatus after a busy three-day span sold him out of product. [Lauren Slagter, MLive]

December 14: The cochairs of the Governor’s Advisory Marijuana Commission are scheduled to talk about their report on the radio and will take questions from listeners beginning at noon Friday. It'll be rebroadcast at 7 p.m.[Bob Kinzel, Vermont Public Radio]

December 14: Africa’s first-ever cannabis expo featured … no cannabis. There’s a weird legal gray area in South Africa’s law. [Joe Bavier, Business Day]

December 14: New Jersey is inching toward weed legalization. One interesting aspect? The law wouldn’t allow for people to grow at home. The only other state with legal cannabis and a similar provision in its law is Washington. [Nick Corasaniti, New York Times]

Got a story you want to see in our our weekly roundup? Send an email to cannabeat@sevendaysvt.com.

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