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The Cannabis Catch-Up: The Big Reveal


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The Governor’s Marijuana Advisory Commission has released its final report, just a few weeks before the Vermont legislature will convene and almost surely begin discussions about a regulated recreational cannabis market.

There was no shocking reveal in the 14-page final report. Much of its contents, including a recommended 26 percent tax on cannabis products, had been discussed in the weeks leading up to its release.

One thing of note: The commission did recommend that the state create and implement a consistent test for motorists suspected of driving high before creating a regulated marketplace. That has been a sticking point for Gov. Phil Scott, who has asked for such a test before he’d be willing to support full legalization. But others say that will just gum up the works.

“My own view is that I’m ready to advance a full legal tax-and-regulate system even while we wait for the technology to improve,” Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) told “The question is, do we wait possibly for a decade until the technology is superior to have a more rational system? I would say, no way.”

Also of interest, the report recommends that officials create a Cannabis Board of Control, to oversee “commercial cultivation, production, testing and sales,” much like the way the state already regulates alcohol.

You can read the whole report here or where it's embedded below. It’s a thorough look at some of the issues likely to arise with a recreational cannabis market, intended to put “the horse before the cart when compared to the states where voter referenda enacted state laws without the careful, detailed work the Commission believes it has done,” cochairs Tom Little and Jake Perkinson wrote in summing up the report.

We’re off next week, so happy holidays, thanks for reading and see you in 2019! Here are some other stories we read this week:

December 16: With weed now legal in Vermont, some employers want looser restrictions on when they can drug test employees. [Anne Wallace Allen,]

December 17: New York is getting serious about legalizing weed. Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to get it done as soon as next year. If it happens, most northeastern states will have legalized cannabis. New Jersey, meanwhile, is crafting legalization plans of its own. [Vivian Wang, the New York Times]

December 17: Heady Vermont checked in with a Brattleboro man who stopped at the newly opened Northampton, Mass., legal weed shop. Give a listen (or read the transcript). Also, the Heady folks dubbed the Bay State “Grassachusetts,” so there's that. [Eli Harrington, Heady Vermont]

December 18: Shares in Canadian cannabis company Tilray spiked after the biz signed a deal with Swiss drugmaker Novartis. [Berkeley Lovelace Jr., CNBC]

December 19: A new study found that cannabis can reprogram sperm genes. It can also lower sperm count, according to previous studies. [Angela Chen, the Verge]

December 20: Alaska is on its way toward legalizing the consumption of weed at licensed recreational cannabis dispensaries. If the bill gets through all the regulatory hurdles, Alaska would be the first state to allow consumers to buy-and-bake on-site. [Kristin Lam, USA Today]

December 20: Dozens of towns in Michigan, which just legalized recreational cannabis last month, are banning pot shops. The state has an opt-in or opt-out policy, which means towns either must agree to host and regulate shops in their municipality or ban them altogether and lose out on tax benefits. [Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press]

December 20: Gov. Cuomo is warning officials to carefully consider a tax rate for legal cannabis because too high a figure could drive consumers to other states. [Carl Campanile, New York Post]

December 20: With President Donald Trump’s signature on the Farm Bill, the federal government has officially legalized industrial hemp. But it will still be heavily regulated. [Maggie Fox, NBC News]

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