Vermont Governor Phil Scott announced that he allowed a bill to legalize cannabis sales in the state to become law without his signature, making Vermont the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis sales.
Vermont originally legalized the possession and use of cannabis in 2018, but lawmakers didn’t initially approve any laws allowing for the legal production and sale of recreational cannabis. Under the 2018 law, adults aged 21 and over are allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis.
The new law establishes a legal cannabis market in Vermont and a 14 percent tax on all cannabis products. It also creates a licensing system and requires the formation of a Cannabis Control Board. While the law is set to take effect this month, recreational sales are not expected to begin in Vermont until October 2022.
Gov. Scott expressed he still had some concerns surrounding the legislation but said lawmakers can still make changes to it in the upcoming 2021 session. Among the main concerns were an “unfair head start on market access” for medical cannabis businesses, marketing that could be attractive to youth, cannabis vaping products and increasing law enforcement training and spending to help combat the possible rise in impaired drivers.
“However, there is still more work to be done to ensure the health and safety of our kids and the safety of our roadways—we should heed the public health and safety lessons of tobacco and alcohol,” Scott wrote in a letter to lawmakers announcing his decision. “Further, I believe we are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history which requires us to address systemic racism in our governmental institutions. We must take additional steps to ensure equity is a foundational principle in a new market.”
An economic impact report predicted adult-use cannabis sales in the state could reach $230 million in 2023, with the sales expected to increase to $250 million in 2024 and $255 million in 2025.