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Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

Vermont House Approves Taxing And Regulating Marijuana Sales

A marijuana plant.
Brennan Linsley
Associated Press File
On Wednesday the Vermont House voted to create a tax-and-regulate system for selling recreational marijuana in the state.

Updated 4 p.m. Thursday

After voting 90 to 54 Wednesday to tax and regulate pot sales in Vermont, House members gave their final approval Thursday afternoon.

Under the bill, marijuana would be sold at retail outlets, and revenue from a new cannabis tax would be dedicated to drug prevention programs and a new after-school program.

In the past, Gov. Phil Scott has said he was concerned about driver impairment and wanted a roadside saliva test to be included in the bill. While the House's plan includes that saliva test measure, it requires a warrant to be obtained first.

Scott said Thursday this approach is unacceptable.

"I view this as the same as a breathalyzer," he said. "It's not evidentiary, but could be utilized to help those on the road to help determine whether there's any impairment."

On Wednesday, Wilmington Rep. John Gannon reminded his colleagues Vermont has already legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

"Vermont's current law is awkward, because it's a legalized product without creating a safe, legal access to it," Gannon said. “The goal of this bill is the elimination or near-elimination of the black market, delivery of a product of certified purity, and known potency, while minimizing the growth of heavy or hazardous use and use by children."

Because there are big differences between the House bill and the one passed by the Senate last year, a conference committee will likely be named to work out those differences.

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