Outreach - Marijuana

Update December 30th, 2017

The Vermont House of Representatives' bill H.511 is slated to be on the agenda for the first week of the new session beginning January 3rd. The bill was introduced in 2017 but was totally rewritten by the Senate near the end of the session. The House Judiciary Committee will be first to consider the revised bill and a number of proposed amendments. A summery of the bill and the amendments are presented here. Further down this page you will find information relating to the 2017 session. 

The governor has created a Commission to study marijuana legalization. The commission will provide a report on January 15th of 2018.

If there is a roll-call vote on this issue I will add an explanation of my vote to these pages.

Regardless of your opinion, you should make your thoughts know to me, other Colchester representatives and perhaps the members of the House Judiciary Committee. That committee will be considering the bill this Wednesday (1/3/18). There may well be a vote in the House on Thursday (1/4/18).

See my page entitled "Contact Your Representatives" for contact details.

H.511

“It is the intent of the General Assembly to eliminate all penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and two mature and four immature marijuana plants for a person who is 21 years of age or older while retaining criminal penalties for possession, dispensing, and sale of larger amounts of marijuana.”

Most of the bill, if passed, will take effect July 2018

Crime for anyone to have more than one ounce of marijuana or more than five grams of hashish or cultivating more than the allowed number of plants

·         First Offence

o   Opportunity to participate in the Court Diversion Program, or

o   Imprisoned not more than six months, or

o   Fined not more than $500.00, or

o   Imprisonment and fine.

·         Second Offence

o   Imprisoned not more than two years, or

o   Fined not more than $2,000.00, or

o   Imprisonment and fine.

 

There are stiffer punishments for possessing or growing more than the above (up to 15 years and $500,000).

Cannot consume marijuana in a public place.

Cannot consume marijuana where tobacco consumption is prohibited.

Fifty percent of civil penalties will go to Drug Task Force Special Fund available to the Dept. of Public Safety for funding officers on the Drug Task Force.

Other 50% of civil penalties goes to Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program Special Fund available to Court Diversion Program for funding of the Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program

Employers are

  • ·         not required to allow people to consume marijuana
  • ·         allowed to adopt policies that prohibit the use of marijuana

For under age 21 consumption

·         Referred to Court Diversion

·         If Diversion Program not completed, then

  • If 1st offence
    • $300.00 civil penalty, and
    • Suspension of driving license for 30 days
  • If additional offices
    • $600.00
    • Suspension for 90 days

Growing Marijuana

Those 21 years or older can grow two mature and 4 immature plants

  • Limit is by dwelling, not the number of people living there.
  • One-ounce limit does not apply to that grown and stored on the property where it was grown
  • Must be on property owned by the grower or with consent of owner.
  • Must be screened from public view
  • Must be accessible only for those 21 or older

Penalties

  • Not more than $100 for first offence
  • Not more than $200 for second and,
  • Not more than $500 for the rest.

Older than 21 who gives or sells to a minor

  • Cannot “knowingly enable” the use by a minor
  • Penalty: imprisonment not more than 2 years and/or fined not more than $2,000
  • Additional penalty (5 years and $10,000) if traffic accident results in serious injury or death

Minor who gives or sells to a minor

  • Various penalties depending on age

Civil actions for damages

  • A person who is injured because of the illegal consumption or sale of marijuana can also sue for damages.

Other related crimes

Marijuana Extraction via butane or hexane is illegal unless authorized.

Convictions for enabling or selling marijuana on school grounds have higher penalties

Drug Paraphernalia cannot be sold to minors

Consumption of marijuana while driving is illegal. This includes second hand smoking.

Open containers of marijuana are illegal while driving.

Marijuana cannot be consumed at a child care facility.

 

Summary of Amendment to H.511 provisions that are different from S.22 of

June 21, 2017 5:22 p.m.

 

·          Adds following language regarding search and seizure: Marijuana possessed or

consumed in violation of State law is contraband pursuant to subsection 4242(d) of this

title and subject to seizure and forfeiture.

·         Clarifies language regarding dispensing marijuana to a person under 21 years of age.

·         Makes clear that the new two-year misdemeanor crime of dispensing marijuana to a person under        21 years of age is in addition to any other crimes that may be charged under existing law.

·         Establishes a misdemeanor crime ($500.00 fine) for 18-year-old who dispenses to 16 or 17 year           old or 19-year-old who dispenses to 17-year-old.

·         Establishes delinquency for anyone less than 18 years of age who dispenses to another person           who is less than 18 years of age.

·         Increases civil penalties for consuming or having an open container of marijuana in a

vehicle.

·         Establishes a fine-only misdemeanor crime for using marijuana in a vehicle with a child under 18           years of age.

·         Establishes a fine-only misdemeanor crime for cultivating or using marijuana in a child care center        or after school program.

·         Expands the Marijuana Review Commission to include following members:

  • two current members of the House of Representatives who shall be appointed by the        Speaker of the House;
  • two current members of the Senate who shall be appointed by the Committee on            Committees;
  • a member appointed by the Speaker of the House;
  • a member appointed by the Committee on Committees;
  • the Commissioner of Public Safety or designee;
  • the Commissioner of Health or designee;
  • the Commissioner of Taxes or designee;
  • the Secretary of Commerce and Community Development or designee;
  • the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets or designee;
  • one member appointed by the Governor;
  • the Attorney General or designee; and
  • the Defender General or designee.

·         Directs the Commission to examine best practices for addressing:

  • impaired driving, including consideration of a regional impairment threshold for the New England states and parity in impaired driving laws and penalties;
  • prevention and education related to marijuana use, access to marijuana by persons under 21 years of age, impacts to public health, and consumer safety issues such as use of pesticides, GMOs, and testing of marijuana in a regulated market;
  • regulation and taxation of a commercial adult-use marijuana market that is economically sustainable, reduces the illegal marijuana market, results in net revenues to the State after appropriate costs for education, public health, and public safety have been deducted; and
  • liability issues, including consideration of federal law, banking, landlords, and insurance.

·         Requires an interim report and legislation by January 15, 2018, on the following issues:

  • public safety recommendations to address impaired driving;
  • requirements and funding for statewide evidence-based youth prevention programs;
  • any recommended changes to the civil action for damages established in 18 V.S.A. § 4230g; and
  • any recommended changes to the definitions of “open container” and “passenger area” as used in 23 V.S.A. §§ 1134 and 1134a.
  • Requires a final report and legislation by December 31, 2018, that establishes a comprehensive regulatory and revenue system for an adult-use marijuana market that, when compared to the current illegal marijuana market, increases public safety and reduces harm to public health, and results in net revenue to the State.
*******************************************************************************************************************
Update June 2nd 2017
The Governor has vetoed this bill. We will pulled back in session on June 21st to handle the veto.

********** end update **********

Update May 13th 2017
Last week S.22 came before the House for a vote.

This is a Senate bill that is about the same as House bill 170 described below. When H.170 came up for a vote in the House on May 3rd, I voted against it but it passed 75 to 71 . Here are the details:

R-Yea  3
R-Nay 50
D-Yea  63
D-Nay 16
R-Absent 0
D-Absent 3
Oth-Yea 9
Oth-Nay 5
Oth-Absent 0
Abstain 0
Not-Voting 1
150
That bill was then sent to the Senate.

The Senate Marijuana Bill S.22 came to the House on May 10th. This bill was essentially the same as H.170 but added the creation of a Commission that "shall develop legislation that establishes a comprehensive regulatory and revenue system for an adult-use marijuana market that, when compared to the current illegal marijuana market, increases public safety and reduces harm to public health." And it moved the implementation of Vermont's legalization of the possession of a small amount of marijuana and the growing of 6 plants to July of 2018. The Commission develops legislation, but that legislation that would create a tax and regulate system for marijuana would still have to be approved by the regular legislative process. I voted against this bill. It passed 79 to 66. Here are the details:


R-Yea  3
R-Nay 48
D-Yea  65
D-Nay 16
R-Absent 2
D-Absent 1
Oth-Yea 11
Oth-Nay 2
Oth-Absent 1
Abstain 0
Not-Voting 1
150

End of May 13th Update

There are many important issues confronting Vermont legislators during this two-year session. This page is used to inform you of Representative Curt Taylor's thinking on those issues and the arguments he is considering in determining a position. Please contact Curt Taylor and share your thoughts and suggestions. This page may be updated with your input.

  • Marijuana Legalization - Last session a marijuana regulation and legalization bill passed the Vermont Senate but was so changed by the House that it was not sent to the Governor. It died. This session a very different marijuana bill has been proposed.  H.170 proposes to remove all criminal and civil penalties for possession of two ounces or less of marijuana and cultivation of two mature marijuana plants and seven immature marijuana plants for a person who is 21 years of age or older. Marijuana cannot be sold. And it cannot be given to anyone under the age of 21. There are other restrictions regarding the growing of marijuana.
    • Pros
      • This is an incremental step toward full legalization and regulation. Because both Massachusetts and Maine recently passed referendums legalizing marijuana, there is pressure for Vermont to do the same. Visitors from those states will not have be overly concerned about running afoul of Vermont's legal system.
      • Obtaining marijuana for therapeutic purposes will be easier and less costly.
      • Those wishing to use marijuana and grow there own will not have to deal with the illegal drug market.
      • The current system is not working. Perhaps this will lead toward a system that does.
    • Cons
      • Because there remains no accurate road-side test for marijuana inebriation, public safety will have to use impaired driving laws to control what may be an increase in unsafe driving. Impaired driving arrests are cumbersome as they require officers with special training.
      • The adverse effects of marijuana on youth are well documented. Legalizing marijuana gives our young a license to try it and be drawn into its use.
      • Legalization will inevitably lead to commercialization and related pressures toward consumption.
      • If people are allowed to grow it, they will try to sell it, even if doing so is illegal. This will create a quasi-legal black market for marijuana.