Vermont: House And Senate Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Dispensaries Measure

Montpelier, VT: House and Senate lawmakers last week gave final approval to Senate Bill 17, which allows state-licensed facilities to dispense marijuana to medically authorized patients.

On Thursday, House lawmakers decided 99 to 44 in favor of the measure, which permits the establishment of four state-licensed medical cannabis dispensaries. Senators had previously approved the measure in April.

House lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the proposal despite last-minute warnings from the U.S. Justice Department alleging that SB 17 would conflict with federal antidrug laws.

As approved, each dispensary would be licensed by the state Department of Public Safety and would be permitted to serve up to 1,000 registered patients.

Senate Bill 17 now goes to the desk of Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, who is on record in support of the measure.

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. Additionally, permits for licensed medical marijuana businesses are expected to be issued soon 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.

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