On Tuesday, September 15, the Vermont House of Representatives and Senate reached a final agreement on the details of Section 54, Vermont`s bill to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis sales, which had already passed the Senate (23-5) and the House (90-54) in various forms. The House of Representatives approved the bill in a final vote (92-56) on September 17, and the Senate approved it in a final vote (23-6) on September 22. Governor Phil Scott announced on Oct. 7 that he would allow the bill to become law without his signature. His statement is available here. Here you will find a summary of the provisions contained in the final version of § 54. The legislator also passed companion legislation (S. 234), which automatically overturns minor cannabis-related convictions and decriminalizes moderate exceeding of the legal possession and cultivation limit. Details of this invoice can be found here. State House voted on January 4, 2018 to pass H.511, an amended version of the 2017 law.    The bill legalized the personal possession of one ounce of cannabis by adults and allowed individuals to grow two plants.  The Senate passed the bill by vote on January 10, 2018, and Governor Phil Scott did not allow it to be passed by signature or veto on January 22, and became «a bill to eliminate penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 years of age and older»; Its provisions entered into force on 1 July 2018.    Over the next year, proponents of Granite State`s legalization believe they may finally be able to break the cycle with a new bill and a new approach.
Opponents, including Sununu, cited the state`s opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic and called for restraint. But as New Hampshire lawmakers unveil the latest round of marijuana legalization bills for next year`s session, the results appear to be as good as they are predetermined. The bills will move from a House committee to the House of Representatives, where they are expected to receive a bipartisan majority. They will be transferred to the Senate and will probably be rejected. If they turn to Governor Chris Sununu`s office, they may face a veto. The bills are supported by both parties. Its sponsors include left-wing Democrats and libertarian Republicans. One was proposed by a Republican chairman of an influential committee; another from the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives himself. Some who oppose the legalization of marijuana praise the Vermont bill. Kevin Sabet, the founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes legalization, said the bill allows people to possess an «excessive» amount of marijuana and does not protect children from improperly stored marijuana products. But, he said, it`s «much better» than what other states have adopted.
«Developers had to lower the bar and work so hard to get this passed in Vermont in the first place,» Sabet said. «This essentially ensures that the legalization of sales is never signed by this governor. Scott has essentially gone as far as he`ll ever be willing to go on marijuana. Following the passage of section 54 in 2020, oversight of the medical cannabis program is shifting from the Ministry of Public Safety to a new Cannabis Control Board. This should be much better for patients than continuing to be regulated by law enforcement. The MPP has been working with patients, legislators and allies for more than 15 years to enact and improve medical cannabis laws in Vermont. The first victory was a limited law for home cultivation only, which then-Governor James Douglas (R) signed into law in 2004 without his signature. That made Vermont only the second state legislature to legislate a medical cannabis bill — as opposed to a vote initiative.
Other major improvements were the significant expansion of eligible medical conditions in 2007 and the introduction of regulated access for medical pharmacies in 2011. Among the subsequent improvements proposed by the MPP was a 2014 law – p. 247 – which lifted a cap of 1,000 patients with access to pharmacies. It also allowed naturopaths to certify patients, pharmacies to provide cannabis to patients, and commissioned a study on the potential impact of legalization and regulation. In 2016, the Vermont Legislature and then-Governor Peter Shumlin agreed to further improve medical cannabis law by passing Section 14, a MPP-backed bill that allows patients with glaucoma or chronic pain to qualify for the program. (Previously, the norm was «severe pain,» a much higher standard than «chronic pain.») The revised law also reduced the minimum required duration of the provider-patient relationship from six months to three months and included other minor but positive changes. On June 8, 2017, Governor Phil Scott signed p. 16, a bill that significantly improved patient access to Vermont`s medical cannabis program. The bill added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson`s disease and Crohn`s disease to the list of eligible conditions.
It also approved an additional pharmacy (bringing the national total to five) and allowed existing pharmacies to each open an additional location. When the patient registry reaches 7,000, a sixth pharmacy (which may also have a second location) is approved. A full summary of the law can be found here. In Maine, residents can enact a law through an election initiative — as long as they collect signatures equal to 10% of the votes cast for the governor. In 2016, when he was governing Paul LePage, a national referendum seemed a much more attractive avenue. But Boyer said that even without the ability to put the question on the ballot, Granite State advocates could learn from Maine`s national campaign. Connecting lawmakers with voters who could tell stories about the benefits of legalization could also make all the difference, he said. Advocating for marijuana legalization in New Hampshire has long been a game of determining which lawmakers oppose it in principle and which are open to it, but depend on the details, Conley said. «They raise a lot of concerns that may have been raised by people who are willing to support the legalization program, but didn`t like the details of the previous legislation,» he said.
«In a tax and regulatory scenario, you`re bringing a lot more to the sea,» Zuckerman, a longtime supporter of legalization, said in an interview. Vermont considered legalization plans in 2014. Since there was no initiative process in Vermont, legalization efforts went through the state legislature and had to be approved by the governor or veto-proof.  Instead, New Futures assesses whether the bills achieve four goals, Frey said. The law must protect children by prohibiting commercialization and limiting potency. It must promote social justice by overturning previous convictions and protect public health by including health warnings and involving health authorities. And it must channel all profits into drug abuse prevention programs. Today, by a vote of six to five, the House Judiciary Committee passed a version of Section 241 that does not legalize marijuana as proposed in the Senate version of the law. However, a commission will be established that will recommend to the Governor and the General Assembly ways to eventually legalize adults over 21 years of age. So far, no bill in the legislature has met these goals, Frey said. Frey and New Futures hadn`t seen the latest bill on Friday.
Scott`s position was markedly different from Sununu`s in 2018, when New Hampshire`s governor said he would «absolutely» veto legislation to legalize cannabis, «regardless of language.» And that gave Vermont developers some flexibility to work with later. Silberman said the gradual pace helped put legalization advocates in a good position after Scott`s veto, allowing them to change the law to the governor`s liking without drastic changes. Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed a bill Monday legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older. It allows possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as two mature plants and four immature plants. Vermont becomes the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults, but the other states have done so through election initiatives. New Hampshire`s legalization supporters don`t have the same policy tools or environment as Maine and Vermont.