The Vermont House on Wednesday approved a bill that would establish a legal market for marijuana in Vermont and clear the way for dispensaries to open up shop in the state as soon as 2022.
The bill mandates a 20% tax, gives a head-start on retail sales to current medical marijuna dispensaries and allows saliva testing for drivers who are suspected to be impaired.
Marijuana has been legal to possess and grow in small quantities since 2018, but sale of the drug has remained illegal in Vermont.
It has been a priority for many Democrats in the Statehouse to expand the state’s legalization laws to provide a safe way for consumers to obtain cannabis and curb the black market.
“Vermont’s current law is awkward because it’s a legalized product without providing safe, legal access to it,” Rep. John Gannon, D-Wimington, said ahead of Wednesday’s vote.
Only six out of 43 Republicans voted for S.54, while more than a dozen Democrats voted against it.
If Gov. Phil Scott vetoes the legislation, House Democrats would need 10 more votes to sustain an override. Scott has signaled he could support a tax and regulate market for marijuana — only if saliva tests for drivers who appear to be intoxicated could be administered without a court order. [Read more at Vermont Digger]