Editorial: The Heady Vermont 2017 Cannabis Reform Platform
Before the legislative session truly begins and the heady high-minded living room musings are replaced by cramped committee rooms and hushed hallway conversations, we decided to take this opportunity to publicly present a list of political reforms that we’d like to see happen in 2017. Of course there are more reasonable demands, but this list is a realistic outline of what could be done over the next four months in Montpelier, and considers political realities while incorporating feedback based on hundreds of interviews, conversations, and in-depth examinations of regional, national and international cannabis politics and policy.
As always, feedback welcome on the Heady Vermont Facebook page — refresh yourself on all the fall #vtpoli cannabis news from Montpelier, and make sure you’re subscribed to the Sunday Stash newsletter and the Vermontijuana podcast. – HVT
UPDATE THE STATE’S MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM TO BETTER REFLECT THE LESSONS LEARNED IN VERMONT AND NEIGHBORING STATES
- Allow doctors and specialists to prescribe medical marijuana to a new patient in no more than 30 days. Compassionate specialists and physicians should be allowed to approve medical marijuana patients without incurring administrative burdens associated with establishing a three-month relationship.
- Allow dispensaries to advertise freely and create a publicly-visible database of specialists (like the one on the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health website) who have completed no less than three hours of cannabis-specific training. Neither veterans, nor the disabled, nor the geographically or technologically-isolated should be forced to expend energy shopping for compassionate medical professionals or being forced to only see dispensary-recommended docs.
- Expand the list of qualifying conditions to those of Maine and Massachusetts, including PTSD, nausea, insomnia, all muscle-spasm disorders, and “other debilitating conditions as determined in writing by a qualified patient’s certifying physician or specialist.”
- Increase the number of allowable plants-per-patient to six in order to prevent patients from needing to access the illicit market or being forced into a single dispensary. Allow patients growing at home and their caregivers to also purchase up to one ounce per month of dried marijuana flowers and up to 300mg per month of THC in processed marijuana products.
- Increase the patient maximum possession amount to six (6) ounces of dried marijuana flower per month and allow patients to purchase medical marijuana from any licensed dispensary in the state, not just a single designee. Track purchases at the point of sale by checking patient identification cards against a statewide tracking system utilized by all licensed dispensaries.
INCREASE THE SUPPLY OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND THE CAPACITY OF PROVIDERS
- Create a statewide cannabis control board that is transparent, informed, diverse, and accountable. This board would oversee the existing regulation and implementation of the current medical marijuana program and address future adult use regulation questions. It would include a combination of executive appointees, legislators, medical professionals, industry stakeholders and members of the public.
- Allow patients to serve as caregivers and for caregivers to grow for up to five patients, thereby creating a cottage industry. Encourage the organization of caregivers into cooperatives for purpose of realizing scales required to create testing centers, better utilizing available financial services, and sharing industry best practices.
- Allow existing dispensaries to convert into for-profit business entities and allow new dispensaries to open as for-profit business entities, giving preference to those with at least 51% Vermont ownership.
- Remove the limit on the number of state-licensed dispensaries and mandate a minimum of six to be licensed at all times, serving diverse geographic regions of the state. If there are not enough qualified applicants to maintain minimum, allow existing license-holders to apply for satellite locations.
- Create (or update) state requirements for licensing of dispensary facilities — including suggested language for local government standards. Create (or update) state requirements for testing facilities. In Oregon, the state government has even published a “Business Readiness Guidebook” to promote compliance from the start, a ganjapreneur’s dream.
PERSONAL LIBERTY FOR HOME CULTIVATION & FREE GIFTING OF MARIJUANA
- Allow for Vermont residents to grow up to three (3) plants at their place of residence, including outside or in greenhouses, in a reasonably secure location. Require tenants to secure landlord permission, restrict outdoor gardens to at least 500yds from educational centers, or reasonably enclosed to prevent accidental ingestion.
- Allow for legal possession of up to one ounce of usable marijuana flower, and up to 300mg of THC in processed marijuana products (based on chemical content, not actual weight of edibles, tinctures, and/or salves) when in public if at least 21 years-old.
- Allow for legal possession of up to four ounces of usable marijuana flower, and up to 1200mg of THC in processed marijuana products (based on chemical content, not actual weight of edibles, tinctures, and/or salves) when at home.
- Allow for gifting of up to one half ounce of marijuana flower and up to 150mg of THC in processed marijuana forms.
- Create parameters for lounge permits by 2018 in order to create safe places for legal consumption.
Stay tuned to Heady Vermont Statehouse coverage throughout the 2017 legislative session by following @HeadyVermont on twitter and instagram, liking our facebook page, and receiving weekly updates via our newsletter, the Sunday Stash.