Officials in the state of Vermont are serious about legalizing marijuana. From the legislature to the Governor, things seem to be on track for Vermont possibly becoming the next state to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes.
The state Senate is currently having a series of committee meetings (spread out over at least 6 committees) to discuss different elements of the legalization plan in an attempt to get the whole bill to the floor for a vote next week. That way, if it passes, the state House will have time to debate and vote on the proposal as well.
One of the issues that still need to be hammered out is the tax rate. Reports say the Finance Committee is looking at a sales tax rate of 20% to 37%.
"That sounds pretty good to me," said Bill Lofy, spokesman for Vermont Cannabis Collaborative. "I think it's really important to keep the tax low, as low as possible. The governor's right about that that we want to do everything we can to eliminate the underground market."
I’m not sure I would agree with Mr. Lofy that a tax of 20%+ is low, but he and the Governor are correct about needing to undercut the black market. A legal market cannot thrive without drawing consumers from the black market and into the light.
As the proposal continues to make its way through state Senate committees, it gains momentum. Of course something could always derail things, but Vermont very well might become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in what could end up being quite a historic year in the cannabis community. It would also be the first state to adopt recreational legalization through the legislature.
For now we wait to see if Vermont can get it done.