MONTPELIER, Vt.—Vermont is now the 11th state in the U.S. to allow sales of marijuana for recreational use by adults after Gov. Phil Scott allowed the bill passed by the state legislature to become law without his signature, the Hill reports. Retail sales are expected to begin by 2022 once rules have been finalized.
Vermont is the first state in which recreational marijuana has been legalized by lawmakers and not voters. Neighboring Massachusetts and Maine already allow sales for recreational use following ballot initiatives. Voters in Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington also approved ballot measures legalizing recreational marijuana sales. And in November, voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota will decide whether to OK recreational sales in their states.
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In 2018, Vermont legalized personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivation of two plants for adults, but retail sales remained illegal. The new law establishes Vermont’s new cannabis commercialization bill, a tax-and-regulate system. Vermont’s new Cannabis Control Commission will be responsible for issuing licenses for retailers, growers, manufacturers, wholesalers and labs.
The commission also will regulate the state’s existing medical cannabis industry from the Department of Public Safety. A 30% THC limit will be imposed on cannabis flower, while oils could contain up to 60% THC. Flavored vape cartridges will be banned. Local jurisdictions must proactively opt in to allow cannabis businesses to operate within their borders. Municipalities will be allowed to establish their own regulations and municipal licensing requirements.
Differing versions of the marijuana sales proposal passed each chamber before being reconciled in a bicameral conference committee last month. The legislature then approved the final version and sent it to the governor’s office.
A fiscal analysis projects that Vermont will generate between $13.3 million and $24.2 million in annual cannabis tax revenue by fiscal year 2025. Licensing fees will lead to additional funds for the state, but the regulatory board created by the legislation will set those levels later. The Joint Fiscal Office estimates the fees could lead to an additional $650,000 in revenue annually. Municipalities hosting marijuana businesses will also be able to levy additional local fees.