Montpelier, VT: Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin signed legislation into law last week that allows for the establishment of state-sanctioned medical cannabis distribution facilities. The Governor signed the law despite last-minute warnings from the U.S. Justice Department alleging that it would conflict with federal antidrug laws.
Senate Bill 17 authorizes the state Department of Public Safety to license up to four facilities to provide marijuana to qualified patients. Each facility will be allowed to provide cannabis for up to 1,000 patients.
The Department is in the process of developing rules to carry out the new law. It is anticipated to begin issuing licenses within six or seven months and is required by law to begin doing so within one year.
To date, only the states of Colorado, Maine, and New Mexico have state-licensed medical marijuana facilities up and running. Regulators in New Jersey and Rhode Island have selected applicants to operate similar state-licensed dispensaries, but neither state has allowed those applicants to open their planned facilities. A similar licensing program in Arizona is also on hold. Permits for licensed medical marijuana businesses are expected to be issued within the next 6 to 12 months in Delaware and in the District of Columbia.
Vermont lawmakers initially approved the physician-supervised use of marijuana in 2004, but failed to provide a state-regulated supply source.
For more information on Vermont's medical marijuana laws, please visit: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=3391#Vermont.