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The Cannabis Catch-Up: The Governor's Three Wishes

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Drugged driver testing is again at the center of the cannabis debate - LUKE EASTMAN
  • Luke Eastman
  • Drugged driver testing is again at the center of the cannabis debate
The stage is set for final negotiations.

Gov. Phil Scott made it clear this week that he’s open to having a taxed and regulated cannabis market, as long as three conditions are met. He wants cities and towns to have the ability to opt out of the market; to implement a roadside saliva test that law enforcement can use on suspected drugged drivers; and to ensure there are educational and prevention programs for young people, according to WCAX-TV.

"I've said I'm not philosophically opposed to this, but I want certain conditions, and I think we have a responsibility to make sure we do this right, and I think these are provisions that would help us get there," Scott said at his weekly press conference Thursday.

A full legalization bill quickly passed the Senate early in the session and is currently before the House Government Operations Committee, where it’s languished for more than a month. Meanwhile, the legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 18.



"We have a window, but it's a tight one," Rep. Sam Young (D-Glover), an advocate of tax-and-regulate, told our John Walters this week.
On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee considered a saliva testing provision for the bill and took testimony from Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson. His take? It needs to be in the measure and getting a saliva test should not require a search warrant, as some lawmakers have offered as a compromise.

Saliva testing is not currently allowed in Vermont, though law enforcement officers can currently obtain a blood sample from a driver — as long as they first obtain a search warrant. Anderson told the committee Thursday that requiring a search warrant for a saliva test would slow down the process enough to lessen the impact it would have on ferreting out drugged drivers, VTDigger.org reported.

Critics, though, say the test doesn't necessarily indicate a driver is stoned because it simply detects the presence, not amount, of THC in someone's system.

A similar provision died in committee last year. But has the calculus now changed for lawmakers who now know very clearly what the governor wants before he’ll sign a bill into the law?

Anderson considers it a no-brainer.

“More evidence is better than less evidence,” he said Thursday, according to Digger.

Here are some other cannabis stories we've followed recently:

April 20: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said that immigrants who work in the cannabis industry or use marijuana in states that consider it legal can be denied citizenship.  [Colby Itkowitz, the Washington Post]

April 22: The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets has released proposed rules for regulating the state's burgeoning hemp industry. The state is soliciting public comment on the 12-page document before making the rules final. [Anne Wallace Allen, VTDigger.org]

April 25: Even though it's illegal federally, the cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing job sectors in the country. [Conor Dougherty, New York Times]

April 26: A study found that a legal cannabis market in New York State would create economic activity worth $4 billion to $8.4 billion and anywhere from 30,000 to 63,000 jobs. [David Colon, Leafly]

April 26: New Zealand is a super liberal and progressive country — but not, apparently, when it comes to recreational weed. [Colin Hogg, Cannabis Wire]

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