By Phillip Smith
Vermont has become the latest state to see a marijuana legalization bill filed this year. House Bill 499, "An Act Relating to Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana," was introduced to the House and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
The bill is sponsored by Reps. Susan Davis (P-Washington), David Deen (D-Westminster), James Masland (D-Thetford), William Stevens (I-Shoreham) and Teo Zagar (D-Barnard).
It would allow people 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to three plants. The bill also legalizes the possession of pot paraphernalia. It would also "create a regulatory structure for the wholesale and retail sale of marijuana that includes licensing and oversight by the Department of Liquor Control." The bill envisages a $50 per ounce excise tax on commercial marijuana sales.
People who possess more than two ounces or three plants or who sell marijuana outside regulated commercial channels would still be subject to criminal penalties.
And the bill would allow industrial hemp production in accordance with existing state law "regardless of whether federal regulations have been adopted."
Colorado and Washington freed the weed in November, and marijuana legalization bills have been or will be introduced this year in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Oregon. A legalization bill died earlier this year in Hawaii, and one died this week in New Hampshire, but another New Hampshire legalization bill is still alive.