The Vermont Senate Committee on Judiciary approved a bill (4-1) on Friday that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate marijuana for adult use.
S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible marijuana products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill. It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. If approved, the new law would not take effect until January 2018.
Earlier this week, Gov. Peter Shumlin and Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Sears announced they would support a bill that "cautiously and deliberately" ends marijuana prohibition in Vermont.
A strong majority of Vermonters (56%) support regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use, according to a statewide survey conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute in September.
Statement from Matt Simon, the Marijuana Policy Project's Montpelier-based New England political director, on behalf of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana:
"Vermont lawmakers are really demonstrating leadership on this issue. They carefully reviewed the evidence and weighed all the options, and they're now moving forward in a very deliberate fashion. This is a significant and much-needed policy change, so they want to get it right.
"Most Vermonters agree it is time to end prohibition and start regulating marijuana. It's a product that many adults enjoy for the same reasons that many adults enjoy consuming alcohol. While no substance is entirely harmless, the evidence is pretty clear that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Adults who choose to consume marijuana should be able to purchase it legally and safely from licensed stores that test and label their products. They shouldn't be forced to seek it out in an illegal market where they might be exposed to other more harmful substances."
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The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana is a broad coalition of citizens, organizations, and businesses working to end marijuana prohibition in Vermont and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed. For more information, visit http://www.RegulateVermont.org.