Vermont’s Senate says yes to retail cannabis sales

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The Senate gives final approval for the activity

A bill submitted to Vermont’s legislature to open up the retail marijuana market has jumped its first big hurdle. The bill successfully survived a Senate vote and will now make its way to the House. If approved, the retail marijuana market could go live by April 2021.

The bill establishes a new Cannabis Control Board in Vermont to oversee the industry. It also introduces a 16% tax on the sale of cannabis products, as well as a 2% optional tax to be imposed by local governments if they so choose. It contains language that would task the board with prioritizing license applications to first consider businesses owned by women and minorities when issuing the licenses.

Growers would be allowed to legally start their operations by December of next year. Different facilities would require different licenses, including for cultivators, processors, wholesalers and retailers. The latter three would be brought in over a period of months following the first licenses issued to cultivators.

This isn’t the first time Vermont has considered recreational marijuana. The Senate has entered similar bills in the past, but they have all failed in the House. Last year, the House finally agreed to legalize cultivation and use, but held firm on its opposition to allow retail sales.

Vermont’s governor, Phil Scott, has already said that he would veto any marijuana bill that didn’t include language to fund youth prevention or establish road safety policies. That veto would most likely be overturned when the bill returned to a vote in the Senate, given that it approved the bill in a procedural vote 23-5. Whether or not the House would follow suit won’t be determined until it votes on the bill.

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