Vermont Governor To Appoint Commission To Study Legal Pot
- Author: Joanne Flowers Jun 24, 2017,
Jun 24, 2017, 18:50
It unfolded after the House angered many supporters of legalized marijuana by voting to repeal the existing law and replace it with a measure that would, among other things, raise the tax rate on marijuana from 12 percent to 28 percent.
Under the voter-approved law, marijuana sales would be subject to a 3.75 percent state excise tax and a 2 percent local tax - in addition to the state's 6.25 percent sales tax.
The House on Wednesday approved a bill that would raise the retail tax on marijuana from 12% to 28%, impose stringent background checks and fingerprinting for all people who own or work in licensed marijuana-related businesses, and allow localities to ban marijuana businesses without first getting voter approval. He said regulating and taxing marijuana could help pay for education and public safety programs.
In rare Friday sessions, the House and Senate appointed House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, Braintree Rep. Mark Cusack, Shrewsbury Rep. Hannah Kane, Somerville Sen.
"The tax rate is irrational and will give drug dealers the ability to undercut the legal market", said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which pushed legalization. Or worse yet, what will stop those consumers from texting their black market dealer in MA to avoid paying the 28 percent surcharge?
The House and Senate also differ on local control of the sale of marijuana.
One of the main proponents of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Vermont says he's still hopeful legalization can happen next year, even though the Legislature failed to pass a legalization bill in the just-completed session. If passed, the legislation would take effect by July 1st, 2018.
Scott said the Senate proposal will be ready for consideration by the House when lawmakers return in January. But numerous rules in both bills are onerous, he said, such as a requirement that anyone working in the commercial marijuana industry undergo a national background check. Whereas the House aimed to scrap most of the defining characteristics of the voter-approved Question 4, the state Senate set out to amend specific areas of concern while leaving the overall intentions of the law intact. Now that Gov. Scott has agreed with the House and Senate that marijuana should be legal for adult use, House Republicans should follow the governor's lead and vote to advance this compromise.
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group's newspapers and websites. "We are starting from a law passed by the voters".