Vermont lawmakers edging closer to legal marijuana market

Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 5:42 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont lawmakers are nearing a deal on rolling out a taxed and regulated market for marijuana, overcoming big hurdles in negotiations.

Lawmakers made a lot of progress on the bill before the weekend with the House and Senate making concessions on several major key points.

The remaining sticking point has to do with how towns will make money off of the new commodity. Right now, pot will be subject to a 14% excise tax and a 6% sales tax. But on the local level, lawmakers are still hashing out the details. The Senate wants to impose a 2% tax on towns that host dispensaries, but the House wants to give towns money from marijuana licensing fees.

In the negotiations, several controversial provisions were removed, such as a provision making not wearing your seat belt a primary offense. Lawmakers also scrapped a proposal that drew ire from some, a provision making it illegal to have alcohol or marijuana - even if it’s in a sealed container - in the front or back seat.

Lawmakers also cleared what was previously a huge hurdle for the bill, saliva testing. The House and Senate agreed to allow police to administer roadside saliva tests if they have a warrant. But roadside saliva testing is still a concern for many because it only identifies the presence of THC, not whether someone is impaired.

Negotiators will meet later this week where they’ll continue to hammer out the details of the bill.

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