High stakes deadline for legal pot in Vt. - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

High stakes deadline for legal pot in Vt.

Posted: Updated:

As the Vermont Senate reaches the final stages of crafting a bill to legalize sale and possession of marijuana beginning in 2018, key aspects remain undecided.

The chamber's finance committee is seriously considering three potential tax rates on sales: 20, 25 and 37 percent respectively.

"As we look at the tax rate, one of the primary issues is can we set it at a rate that both provides the revenues to address the public health issues but keeps the prices low enough that they outperform the black market," said Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden County.

Committee Chairman Ashe says taxes and fees on marijuana would need to raise $15 million-$25 million to support education, prevention and regulation. Proposed tax figures are largely based on other states' experiments with legal pot. While a rate has not been set, the committee does have a framework for how to collect license fees and taxes on sales.

"We are supportive of the structure as drafted," said Candace Morgan of the Vermont Tax Department.

Vermont Tax Department staff members suggested a few small tweaks, but say they believe they can work with proposal.

They're confident but not certain that banking issues surrounding the federally illegal substance won't cause problems.

"We're just going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best in terms of cash management," Morgan said.

As with law enforcement, agricultural administrators say they'll need more resources to shoulder additional responsibility under the bill. That includes inspecting the tons of product expected to be produced once it becomes legal to do so, and testing for potency.

"We currently don't have the authority to possess a controlled substance standard, the test methods are available," said Cary Giguere of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

Senate leaders say their goal is to have the legalization proposal voted out of the last committee by next Friday and up for debate on the Senate floor the following week. One told us if senators do not pass a bill by the Town Meeting Day break, it's unlikely the proposal will become law this year.

Based on a straw poll I conducted this week, it does appear the Senate has the votes to pass a bill.

However, the House will be a far tougher sell. The first committee that would consider the measure in that chamber will require significant convincing from advocates if it's going to vote in favor of the measure.

Related Stories:

Drugged driving enforcement key to pot legalization debate

3 Vt. Senate committees look at legalizing pot

Legal Vt. pot takes big step, significant hurdles remain

Vt. doctors call legal pot a prescription for disaster

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.