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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Vermont House Approves Selling Weed — But Not Advertising It

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 5:59 PM

  • Luke Eastman
The Vermont House on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that would create a legalized retail marijuana market, but not before amending it to ban virtually all weed-related advertising.

Rep. Anne Donahue (R-Northfield), who proposed the amendment, told her colleagues on the House floor that allowing cannabis advertisements goes against what she believes is the bill's main intent.

"The purpose of the bill is safety for current users," Donahue said. "If there are more people who start using because they see ads, that means there are more people potentially on the highway driving impaired; there are more children exposed — the negative things that we don't want to see happening."

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Vermont Cannabis Bill Heads Back to House Committee for Updates

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 at 4:19 PM

Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas (D-Bradford) during a press conference on S.54 earlier this month - COLIN FLANDERS
  • Colin Flanders
  • Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas (D-Bradford) during a press conference on S.54 earlier this month
A bill that would legalize the retail sale of cannabis in Vermont is moving backward. After a stint in the House Ways and Means Committee, S.54 is headed — again — to the House Government Operations Committee for another round of edits.

But while the move means the bill will face another committee vote on its long-awaited path to the floor, a key lawmaker says the return-to-sender is actually a positive development.

“It means that we have completed the 360-degree view from every single policy committee who has jurisdiction over a section of this bill, and we have now found a way to incorporate their recommendations,” said Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas (D-Bradford), who chairs Gov Ops and has been an avid supporter of S.54. “It strengthens the bill's path forward.”

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Burlington Will Take Part in Nationwide Opioid Lawsuit

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2019 at 7:18 PM

OxyContin on a pharmacy shelf - DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
  • OxyContin on a pharmacy shelf
The City of Burlington has enrolled in a federal class-action lawsuit intended to hold drug manufacturers and distributors accountable for their role in the nationwide opioid crisis.

Burlington joins St. Albans, Bennington and more than 2,500 cities, counties and Native American tribes in the “multi-district lawsuit” that will be heard in U.S. District Court in Ohio. By taking no formal action Monday night, the Burlington City Council automatically enrolled the city in the suit against 13 defendants, including Purdue Pharma, Cardinal Health, McKesson Corporation, Cephalon, CVS, Rite Aid and others.

“This is unlike any previous mass tort litigation," Burlington City Attorney Eileen Blackwood wrote in a memo to the council. "Individual cities, town[s], and counties across the country are pursuing claims against the same major defendants to recover money to help fight the epidemic and fund prevention and treatment programs."

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

AG Donovan: Vermont Rejected Purdue Pharma Settlement Offer

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 at 1:30 PM

Attorney General T.J. Donovan - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-brodeur
  • Attorney General T.J. Donovan
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan says the state has rejected a massive settlement offer from opioid maker Purdue Pharma.

The Connecticut-based company reportedly reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday with half of the states and local governments that have filed suit against the OxyContin maker and its owners, the Sacklers. That deal “would have Purdue file for a structured bankruptcy and pay as much as $12 billion over time, with about $3 billion coming from the Sackler family,” the Associated Press reported.

But on Thursday morning, Donovan said in a statement that the state rejected the offer because the amount of money to be paid is not yet settled, and the deal “is not fully developed and we want to be certain that any benefit is not illusory.”

“Vermont demands more certainty and guarantees regarding the money in order to effectively address the opioids crisis in Vermont,” Donovan wrote.
The AG also blasted the idea of the company declaring bankruptcy, saying the business could shutter and sell its assets instead.

“I want to be sure that billionaires can’t use bankruptcy court as a vehicle to avoid accountability,” Donovan wrote.

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ridin' High Owners Accused of Dealing Pot From Burlington Skate Shop

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2019 at 6:08 PM

Ridin' High Skate Shop - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Ridin' High Skate Shop
Updated on August 23, 2019.

The owners of Ridin' High Skate Shop, John Van Hazinga and Samantha Steady, face federal conspiracy charges for growing marijuana and selling it out of their eccentric Burlington storefront, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.

It's the second downtown business to be raided this year for dealing pot.

The feds allege Van Hazinga, also known as "Big John," and Steady ran a grow operation at their Underhill home, then sold the drug and THC-infused edibles out of their skateboard shop at the corner of Pearl and Battery streets, within sight of the Burlington police headquarters.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Drug Overdoses Claim Three Lives in Five Days in Chittenden County

Posted By on Thu, Jul 25, 2019 at 8:00 PM

A kit with the overdose-reversing drug Narcan - COURTESY: DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
  • Courtesy: Department of Health
  • A kit with the overdose-reversing drug Narcan
Three people have died from drug overdoses within five days in Chittenden County, police said Thursday, though it's unclear whether the fatalities are linked to a particular batch of drugs.

At least two of the deaths appear to involve opioids, wrote Jackie Corbally, the Burlington Police Department's drug, mental health, homelessness policy and operations manager, in a press release.

"These deaths may be clustered due to coincidence," Corbally wrote. "Nonetheless, three deaths in five days is cause for concern."

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Vermont State Police Won't Investigate Champlain Valley Dispensary

Posted By on Mon, Jun 10, 2019 at 4:00 AM

A sample of a cannabis plant that was found at Pete's Greens - AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND MARKETS
  • Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
  • A sample of a cannabis plant that was found at Pete's Greens
The Vermont State Police has declined to investigate allegations that Champlain Valley Dispensary illegally grew hundreds of marijuana plants at a Craftsbury vegetable farm.

The law enforcement agency reviewed information compiled last October by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets but “determined there was no appropriate criminal investigation or charges based on the facts of the case,” said Adam Silverman, a state police spokesperson.

Instead, VSP referred the matter to the Vermont Crime Information Center — which directly oversees the medical marijuana registry — for regulatory review, Silverman said. That process can include “sending a notice of noncompliance or a notice of violation, or suspending or terminating a dispensary’s certificate,” according to Silverman.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Vermont Sues Eight Members of Sackler Family

Posted By on Tue, May 21, 2019 at 5:43 PM

Attorney General T.J. Donovan - FILE: TAYLOR DOBBS
  • File: Taylor Dobbs
  • Attorney General T.J. Donovan
The Vermont Attorney General's Office filed suit Tuesday against eight members of the Sackler family, accusing them of using deceptive practices at their company Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.

Members of the family made a fortune while directing company officials to falsely claim the prescription drug was not addictive, thus contributing to the opioid epidemic in Vermont and elsewhere, Attorney General T.J. Donovan said at a Burlington press conference announcing the lawsuit.

"They made billions of dollars off the backs of patients who became addicted to OxyContin. They made billions of dollars. The entire Sackler family has been unjustly enriched by their misdeeds," Donovan said.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Bills Would Allow Legal Action in Older Sexual Abuse Cases

Posted By on Wed, May 8, 2019 at 8:29 PM

Vermont's House Judiciary Committee - TAYLOR DOBBS
  • Taylor Dobbs
  • Vermont's House Judiciary Committee
Victims of sexual assault or exploitation would get expanded opportunity to hold perpetrators accountable in court under a pair of bills making their way through the Vermont legislature.

H. 511 would extend or remove the statute of limitations on multiple sex crimes and other serious offenses, giving prosecutors more time to bring charges.

The other bill, H. 330, concerns civil claims against institutions alleged to have failed to adequately protect children. Current law allows cases to be brought within six years of the underlying allegations or of their disclosure by victims. The proposal would allow victims to sue regardless of how many years have passed.

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Friday, May 3, 2019

High THC Cannabis Found at Farm Linked to Champlain Valley Dispensary

Posted By on Fri, May 3, 2019 at 2:28 PM

A sample of a cannabis plant that was found on a farm by staff from the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets in October 2018. - AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND MARKETS
  • Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
  • A sample of a cannabis plant that was found on a farm by staff from the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets in October 2018.
Updated at 5:28 p.m.

The medical marijuana business Champlain Valley Dispensary allegedly outsourced the growth of approximately 300 cannabis plants to a farm that wasn't licensed to grow pot, which grew them to maturity before the dispensary returned to harvest the crop.

A lab test conducted last fall by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets found that a piece of plant debris recovered at Pete’s Greens vegetable farm in Craftsbury contained 21 percent THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.

The farm had a license to grow hemp plants, according to an agency document, but the legal limit for THC in Vermont-grown hemp is 0.3 percent. Plants with a higher concentration of THC are considered marijuana and are subject to strict growing regulations that require a permit, locked facilities and other security measures.

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