In the 2019 legislative session, the Vermont Senate passed S. 54, a fairly comprehensive tax and regulate bill. Most recently, on Wednesday, February 4, the House Ways and Means Committee advanced the bill after setting a 20% combined tax rate. It was then referred to the House Committee on Appropriations.
What's Next For Vermont?
Now that Vermont’s law allowing personal possession and cultivation is in effect, it’s time for the legislature to regulate and tax cannabis production and sale for adults 21 and older. S.54 is expected to go to a floor vote in the near future.
In addition to tax and regulate, S.294, an act that aims to expand access to expungement and seal criminal history records, is making its way through the Senate and currently sits in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The #LegalizeVT campaign is an opportunity to improve S. 54, and cannabis advocates generally agree that strong and effective legislation creating a commercial must have, as part of its fundamental operating principles:
- A deep commitment to social justice
- Strong environmental protections
- A focus on small, locally-owned, organic grows which strengthen the local economy.
Learn. Share. Act.
We invite you to use this website as an educational resource, as well a support for contacting legislators and engaging in productive conversations with your community about sensible cannabis policy.
Read on to learn more about current legislation, look up your rep, pull together talking points for your discussions, ask questions, and help make Vermont a better place for the people who work with, benefit from, and enjoy this remarkable plant.
What We Like About S.54
- S.54 promises more competition, not less.
Existing dispensary owners are limited to just one integrated license each.
- The tax rate is reasonable.
The 14% excise tax + 6% sales tax rates recently set by the House Ways and Means Committee is comparable to or less than what most other adult-use states have in place.
- The craft cultivator license rocks.
Craft cultivators get preferential treatment, with lower application and annual fees, and when it comes to issuing licenses, the smallest tiers will be prioritized for faster review.
- They’ve got good priorities.
Priorities when issuing licenses will include a number of social justice and environmental considerations, including minority or women-led businesses, whether the business has plans to employ people negatively impacted by prohibition, plans to pay employees a living wage, and plans for environmental resiliency or sustainability.
- The sky’s the limit.
There is no limit on the number of craft cultivator licenses which will be issued, nor on the number of retailers, and geographic distribution is taken into account when issuing these licenses.
Check out our detailed writeup on the good and bad of the Vermont S.54 legalization bill here.More About S.54
Our Concerns About S.54
- Cannabis Control Board/Advisory Committee
How can we be certain that these Board and Committee appointments won’t favor specific interests?
- Affordability of licenses
We want to be sure that the cost of buying one of each license (5 licenses = 1 integrated license) is comparable to or less than the integrated dispensary license.
- Roadside Testing
There is no test that accurately measures cannabis impairment. Though this concession was added as a compromise at Gov. Phil Scott’s insistence, we are concerned by the broad language in this part of S.54.
Check out our detailed writeup on the good and bad of the Vermont S.54 legalization bill here.More about S.54
Contact Your Legislator
Use the Vermont General Assembly site search below to look up your legislator. You can also search for S.54, which contains the most recent updates and additions to the language in the Bill.
Also see 8 Tips For Talking To Your Legislator for helpful outreach info.
Educate Your Community
Talk to your community’s local organizations, businesses, families, select boards and more, and find out what their thoughts are on cannabis reform. Often, a basic educational event can be helpful for those unfamiliar with the subject. We are happy to help organize locally driven, education-based events across the state to support advocates’ efforts and broaden statewide knowledge.Organize an Event
Vermont Legislator Lookup
Find your representative’s contact info using the Vermont Legislature’s handy search tool. Don’t forget to check out our step-by-step guide below!
Step-by-Step: Talking to Your Legislator
- Look up your local reps by going to the Vermont General Assembly site above and typing in your town. You will be able to find detailed information legislators, including email.
- The bill has already been passed by the Senate, so we recommend focusing on your House reps.
- Call the State House(802) 828-2228 during normal business hours between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. – the State House Sergeant-at-Arms will direct your call to the appropriate place.
- Even if you reach a staff member or a voicemail, leave a message with your intended statement.
- Identify yourself as a constituent and which town you are in.
- State your position on the bills up for consideration. There’s a sample statement below, but know that it’s always best to put the message in your own words and include your own personal story. Legislators know the difference between your authentic voice and the exact same message repeated a dozen times.
“Hi, my name is Mary Jane and I’m a constituent from (TOWN). I’m calling today to urge you to continue to move S.54 forward by voting YES. The majority of Vermont voters support legalization, and we encourage you to vote with the interests of Vermonters in mind. Thanks very much for your time.”
Remember that legislators are just like you. They’re your friends and neighbors. So be yourself, be polite, and be honest about your experiences and your reasons for your position. Facts are important, but personal stories are more effective than lectures.
See 8 Tips For Talking To Your Legislator for more info.
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By implementing sensible regulations and taxes, Vermont will ensure not only that licensed retailers supercede criminal traffickers, but that sufficient revenues are collected so that – in addition to the many other benefits associated with regulation – legal cannabis is a self-sustaining, net contributor to the state’s budget.
We advocate for a focus on small, locally-owned, organic grows which strengthen the local economy and apply Vermont’s well-developed and highly respected agricultural, locally made craft brand to cannabis plants and products.
Cannabis has been a key driver of mass criminalization in this country, and each year hundreds of thousands of mostly black and brown people have their lives and communities adversely impacted by cannabis arrests, convictions, and incarcerations.
We advocate for deep commitment to social justice, including provisions to expunge previous cannabis convictions and ensure that women, people of color, and economically disadvantaged individuals have a fair opportunity to start and build cannabis and cannabis-related businesses.
We advocate for strong environmental protections that support reduced energy use, conserve water, stringently limit the use of pesticides and non-organic nutrients, and prevent the cannabis industry from contributing to plastic pollution and the overall stream of solid waste.
S.54: Read the Bill
Full text of S.54 as passed by the Vermont Senate: