After a concoction of wins, losses, and difficulties, the fight to pass cannabis legislation in Vermont moved up another step by the end of last week. The House Ways and Means Committee, by a vote of six to three, passed a bill that allowed people living in Vermont to grow up to two cannabis plants t home. The legislation also gets rid of fines for possessing small amounts of cannabis under the state’s current decriminalization law, which makes it safe to carry up to an ounce of cannabis. Unlike the bill that was approved earlier in 2016 by the Senate, though, the House committee-passed does not create a system of cannabis sales.
“Many Vermonters have been very vocal in support of allowing limited home cultivation, and it appears their voices did not fall on deaf ears,” according to Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.
The Marijuana Policy Project and other supporters fought toughly to pass the broader legalization bill through the Senate earlier this year, but that legislation did not allow for marijuana to be grown at home. Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, who reasoned his backing of legalization and regulated marijuana sales in his State of the State speech.
“There is no question that we can and must improve the current system of marijuana prohibition that is failing us so miserably,” he said. “The committee’s action today takes a step towards addressing the nonsensical system that asks the one in eight Vermonters who admit to using marijuana on a monthly basis to buy it from a drug dealer. I believe there is merit as well in the approach taken by the Senate, which goes further towards addressing the many issues that currently exist because of the failed War on Drugs policy of marijuana prohibition. I appreciate the committee’s work on this bill and look forward to working with the Legislature to chart a smarter policy on marijuana.”
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