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Friday, May 6, 2016

Lawmakers Plan Off-Session Marijuana Discussions

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2016 at 6:07 PM

click to enlarge Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Sears (D-Bennington) - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Sears (D-Bennington)
After failing to reach agreement on legalizing marijuana, House and Senate leaders have come together on planning for the future.

The Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee will convene six hearings this summer and fall to look at issues surrounding legalizing and regulating marijuana, Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Sears (D-Bennington) said Friday.

With marijuana legalization likely coming to neighboring states, Sears said, it’s important to plan for the impact on Vermont.

“I’m tremendously concerned about what’s happening in Massachusetts and Maine,” Sears said. Those states have voter initiatives on the ballot this November. “We’d be better prepared.”

House Judiciary Committee chair Maxine Grad (D-Moretown) said she supports the post-session meetings. Sears had tried to pass marijuana legalization this year, but Grad and fellow House members defeated the legislation.

The meetings will focus on developing an approach to marijuana policy “that reflects the values, culture and scale of Vermont,” Sears and Grad wrote in a letter to legislative leaders seeking official permission to hold the meetings.

Sears balked Thursday at creating a marijuana study commission that would have brought in a variety of players appointed by the governor and legislative leaders. He said these meetings will be different in that they will bring together key legislators who can zero in on potential future legislation.

“These are individuals who have legislative experience and are from a variety of parties,” Sears said. The 10-member panel of House and Senate members has six Democrats, two Republicans, a Progressive and one vacant seat.

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About The Author

Terri Hallenbeck

Terri Hallenbeck

Terri Hallenbeck was a Seven Days staff writer covering politics, the Legislature and state issues from 2014 to 2017.

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