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Introduced by   Representatives Dowland of Holland and Deen of Westminster

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Health; possession and control of regulated drugs; marijuana

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to:

1.  Remove criminal and civil penalties for the possession in nonpublic places of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults 21 years and older.

2.  Increase the maximum penalty for the sale of marijuana to minors.  

3.  Strictly regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana, permitting such activity only by licensed wholesalers and retailers.  Retailers would be permitted to sell limited amounts of marijuana, and those sales would be subject to taxation by the state.

4.  Restrict the cultivation and sale of marijuana in the following manner:

a.  Marijuana wholesalers and retailers could not be located within 500 feet of places of worship or schools.

b.  Only persons 21 and older could enter such establishments, which could not be gas stations, convenience stores, grocery stores, or nightclubs.

c.  Licensed marijuana wholesalers and retailers would be prohibited from selling alcohol or advertising in any way.

5.  Punish violations of the act through potential fines, imprisonment, and suspension or revocation of licenses.

6.  Maintain existing penalties for the unlicensed cultivation or sale of marijuana.

7.  Establish penalties for the use of false identification by a minor to purchase marijuana.

8.  Dedicate one‑half of the revenues raised by the licensure of marijuana wholesalers and retailers and marijuana taxes to the prevention and treatment of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:


The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Vermont’s current approach to the private possession of marijuana as a criminal menace has not worked to reduce teen use or eliminate the criminal market for marijuana.  A new approach is needed to meet the goals of preventing our children from using marijuana, discouraging adult misuse, and keeping our communities safe.  By implementing a system of taxation and regulation, the state will maintain strict control of the cultivation and sale of marijuana, thereby removing its control from the criminal market.  The resources that will be saved from this change in policy and those that will be generated through taxation and regulation can be directed to an evidence‑based, public health model of prevention, education, and treatment.

(2)  Approximately 700,000 people are arrested for marijuana offenses in the United States each year, which is more than the entire population of Vermont.

(3)  The arrest and incarceration of adults for possession of marijuana has failed to prevent the use of marijuana in Vermont or nationwide.  Surveys show that 62 percent of high school seniors in Vermont have used marijuana, 87 percent of high school seniors report that they have easy access to marijuana, and 9.77 percent of Vermonters have used marijuana in the past month.

(4)  In 2003, Vermont disposed of 1,785 marijuana-related charges, 87 percent of which were for misdemeanor possession of less than two ounces of marijuana.  In 2004, 255 people were sentenced to prison for marijuana-related convictions, of which 171 were for misdemeanor possession.

(5)  Rather than spending millions of taxpayer dollars arresting marijuana users, Vermont should instead generate millions of dollars by taxing and regulating marijuana and earmark part of these revenues to prevent and treat the abuse of marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.

(6)  Removing marijuana from the hands of drug dealers who sell far more dangerous drugs will reduce Vermonters’ exposure to hard drugs.

(7)  By allowing adults aged 21 and older to use marijuana legally in the privacy of the home, law enforcement will be able to spend more time preventing and investigating serious crimes against others.

(8)  Patients with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses should be able to obtain medical marijuana from legally regulated establishments instead of illegal drug dealers.


Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont