Vt. advocates hope to resurrect regulated marijuana bill

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) This past legislative session, Vermont lawmakers came close to legalizing the commercial sale of marijuana but ultimately ran out of time. Now, advocates are looking to give the bill another try. Our Calvin Cutler has details on a new initiative aimed at giving new life to the measure.

Despite a Democratic supermajority, the House and Senate weren't able to reach an agreement on a regulated marijuana market bill. Cannabis advocates are now launching a new political action committee to pick the bill up where it left off amid concerns from some state leaders.

It's round two for pot sales this coming session. Advocates hope to get the ball rolling by launching a new PAC. The Vermont Growers Association wants to put cannabis on the shelves of Vermont stores before Town Meeting Day. The PAC, which will serve as a trade association, aims to empower local growers and family-owned operations by making licenses available to everyone.

Gov. Phil Scott, who ultimately has to give his seal of approval, is still leery about key issues surrounding the plant's sale.

"Roadway safety is important to me, we need roadside testing of some sort. We need education and prevention. We also need to allow the community to decide to allow to sell on the retail market," said Scott, R-Vermont.

The clock is ticking for the PAC. They want to pass marijuana sales before Town Meeting Day in March so individual towns have the power to decide whether to sell pot or not.

Last session's cannabis sales bill also included a measure letting law enforcement take saliva samples from drivers they suspect are impaired.

But as cannabis advocates work to spread the word about the Growers Association, he says the PAC serves to create an open discussion for communities to hammer out pot policy.

The Vermont Growers Association is also conducting a policy platform survey for interested community members and policymakers to collect feedback and come up with a policy agenda. Click here for that survey.