House bill would allow Vt. medical marijuana dispensaries to sell retail

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) We are tracking a bill that could eventually lead to a regulated retail marijuana market in Vermont. One-third of the Vermont House is sponsoring it.

The House bill would allow for the retail sale of marijuana next year, faster than a proposal working its way through the Senate.

The bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Sam Young, says the state's five existing medical marijuana dispensaries would be authorized to begin retail sales in July 2020. They'd have to pay a $75,000 fee to do so. That money would help fund the regulatory system needed to expand the legal market in 2021.

While the Senate bill would impose a 10 percent tax on retail sales, the House version has an 11 percent tax, plus the state sales tax and a 3 percent local option tax, totaling 20 percent.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott indicated again this week that he still has public safety concerns with a retail market.

"I'm quite confident there's support in the House to do this this year," said Young, D-Glover. "I think the important thing is that we just kind of work with the governor as we go along and try to make sure that his concerns are covered."

Under the bill, during the initial period, medical marijuana patients would have priority at dispensaries and the general public could only purchase on certain days.