On Sept. 7, 2017, Gov. Phil Scott signed Executive Order 15-17, officially launching the Vermont Marijuana Advisory Commission. The commission will explore several options concerning how to successfully legalize recreational marijuana in the state.
According to an official release from Scott, the Marijuana Advisory Commission will oversee the implementation of recreational marijuana legalization, recommending how to approach health, regulatory, safety, and infrastructure regulation and needs throughout the process.
The 13-member commission, which will be headed by the bipartisan duo of former Republican lawmaker Tom Little and former Democratic chairman Jake Perkinson, will have three subcommittees; one for roadway safety, one for education and prevention, and another for taxation and regulation. The commission and the subcommittees will look to other states who have legalized recreational use for guidance, reporting their findings to Scott.
“As I’ve said before, I’m not philosophically opposed to eliminating the prohibition on recreational use by adults. However, I believe we have an obligation to learn from the experiences of other states, and have comprehensive education and highway safety protocols in place before moving to a fully taxed and regulated recreational-use marketplace,” Scott said. “We must ensure that any approach we take prioritizes public health and safety, particularly the health implications for our children, and the need to ensure safety on our roadways.”
This past May, Scott vetoed a bill that would have made marijuana legal for adults in Vermont. Under its proposed rules, S. 22 would have eliminated the punishment for marijuana possession of up to one ounce.
According to the Associated Press, most states have legalized marijuana through citizen referendums, but Vermont was slated to be the first to legalize via legislative action.
The Vermont Marijuana Advisory Commission is planning to hold its opening meeting sometime before Oct. 1. A report of its findings must be submitted to the Vermont Legislature by Jan. 15, 2018.
“This commission is part of a more thoughtful, deliberative process to deal with an issue that impacts all of us,” Scott said. “It’s critical that we get this right.”