November 23, 2018, Vermont
The legalization of medical and recreational cannabis in different states of the US has only become possible through public ballots. However, Vermont has made history by becoming the first US state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis through legislature. In July this year, Gov. Phil Scott ratified the legalization draft, which had already been approved by both houses of the state legislature.
Gov. Scott is not an out and out opponent to the idea of legalization, but he had some reservations regarding the details of the measure. Amid those mixed sentiments, he ratified the bill, which has legalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, four immature and two mature plants of the strain by adults 21 and above.
As of now, the recreational legalization in Vermont doesn’t allow the commercial sales of marijuana. Furthermore, people are not allowed to consume weed in public spaces. Experts are of the opinion that the Vermont legislature has worked out just a bare minimum measure to snub the campaign of cannabis advocates that could have led to the approval of an expansive and robust legalization measure through a public ballot.
Recreational Cannabis without Legal Market
The most baffling aspect of Vermont’s recreational legalization measure is the lack of a legal cannabis market. People can only grow up to six plants of the strain to get supply. The legislation remains silent about the provision of legal cannabis to the citizens who can’t cultivate it domestically. This loophole of the measure has inadvertently legitimized the underground and illegal sale of cannabis. Law enforcement personnel are not equipped to determine whether a stash is homegrown or procured through black market.
Work on Legal Market is in Progress
Gov. Scott has made a Marijuana Advisory Commission to figure out an outline for the future of the cannabis market of the state. Officials from the Health and Taxation Department are working together to establish detailed regulations for this purpose.
A sub-committee devising the tax plan for the legal cannabis market has recommended an inclusive 26-27 percent tax rate on marijuana sales. According to its suggestion, the entire cannabis taxation will include:
- 20 percent marijuana retail excise tax
- 5 percent state sales tax
- 1 percent local option tax
The proposed tax rate can be termed as a moderate level of taxation in comparison to what California has imposed. The committee should be applauded for suggesting a well-thought-out cannabis tax plan. Officials are aware of the fact that highly-taxed and expensive cannabis unintentionally favors the black market. Therefore, it has become imperative for the administration to keep the legal prices within the range of black market rates.
By studying the cannabis revenue records of the legal states, the committee has also concluded that falling cannabis prices don’t have an adverse impact on tax collection. Some legal states have reported an increase in revenue amid falling prices of the strain. The committee will hold a public hearing on the tax propositions before presenting them to the governor.