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by KRM Research Staff

Any day now, adult-use recreational cannabis may become legal in the Green Mountain state. As of this writing, Virginia’s governor Phil Scott has Senate Bill 54 on his desk, ready to be signed — and although he has not publicly indicated if or when he will sign it, current polls show that most Vermonters expect that he will.

This would make Vermont the 11th state to regulate and tax cannabis sales. Vermont is already one of two legislatures that have legalized adult cultivation, possession and use of cannabis — Washington, D.C. the other — but did not previously set up a system for sales. As Governor Scott signed the previous bill into law in 2018, bill supporters are hopeful — and they are also noting that he has the option to allow the new bill to become law without his signature.

The compromise bill is noteworthy in that it successfully reconciled two very different House and Senate approaches. The main sticking point, saliva testing for impaired drivers, was agreed on with the provision that a warrant would first be required.

Through the bill, Vermont will have a Cannabis Control Board headed by an executive director to govern the tax and regulate sales. A 14% excise tax on cannabis products will be instituted, with 30% of the revenue to be directed toward substance abuse prevention. The current 6% sales tax will also remain in place for cannabis products. The Board is also tasked with prioritizing new cannabis business licenses for women and members of marginalized communities.

The legislation also creates a process for the automatic expungement of some marijuana possession convictions. Individuals with past convictions for possession of up to two ounces will have their records reviewed and cleared.

Who may be next? On November’s ballot, Arizona will be voting on Proposition 207, called The Smart & Safe Act, in their second opportunity to legalize recreational cannabis. Montana citizens will vote on recreational initiatives I-190 and CI-11. South Dakota has both a recreational initiative, Amendment A, and a medical initiative, IM-26. And Mississippi has initiatives 65 and 65A for medical use.

Yet recently, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled their state’s ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana unconstitutional, so unfortunately it will not appear until 2022. Other states having to put legislation on hold for future ballots in 2021 or 2022 include Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma for recreational use cannabis, and Idaho for medical use cannabis.