Friday, May 6, 2016

Vermont House kills cannabis legalization

Vermont’s marijuana legalization dreams go up in smoke - - Bruce Parker:

May 3, 2016 - "Efforts at legalizing recreational marijuana use and cultivation in Vermont went up in smoke Tuesday....  In a marathon session that began in the morning and lasted until nearly 6 p.m., House members considered a range of proposals for legalizing and decriminalizing pot.

Starting with the Senate-approved S.241, a bill that devised a regulatory structure to grow and sell pot in retail outlets beginning in January 2018, the House voted 121-28 to strike that language from an unrelated criminal procedures bill and replace it with a compromise amendment to decriminalize cultivation of two cannabis plants for personal use....

"With commercialization off the table, members spent the rest of the day debating the compromise amendment presented by state Rep. Chip Conquest, D-Newbury. In addition to decriminalizing two plants, the amendment proposed the creation of a study commission and education programs for curbing drug use....  Under the amendment, a civil penalty for public possession of more than one ounce of marijuana was set at $100 for the first offense. Harvesting more than two plants would incur a $300 penalty.

"As the House prepared to vote, Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, offered to strike the compromise amendment and instead let voters decide on whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Turner’s plan proposed a non-binding referendum during the 2016 primary election.... The House rejected Turner’s amendment by a 97-51 vote that fell largely along partisan lines.

"The proposal to decriminalize two plants seemed to have momentum until state Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, began asking how many joints the plants would produce. At first the number was 1,280 joints, taken from 32 ounces of marijuana....

"The number of joints kept growing. Figures produced from the Vermont State Police said two pot plants could, at the high end, produce more than 4 pounds of marijuana in 120 days, resulting in a possible 4,830 joints....

"The lengthy inquiry exploded the proposal and caused a legislative meltdown that lasted the rest of the day.... Two-plant decriminalization failed by a vote of 77-70."

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