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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Vermont Panel to Propose 26 Percent Tax on Retail Weed

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 12:54 PM

Cash crop? - DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
  • Cash crop?
Gov. Phil Scott’s task force studying pot policy released draft recommendations this week for how the state should structure a taxed-and-regulated retail cannabis market.

The 88-page report, created by the taxation and regulation subcommittee of the Governor's Marijuana Advisory Commission, recommends a 20 percent excise tax on all retail cannabis sales, in addition to the state’s 6 percent sales tax. Towns could also choose to levy a 1 percent local option tax. The panel recommends that the tax revenue be distributed to cities and towns statewide; it would also pay for the administrative costs of regulating the new market.

Consumers in Massachusetts, which has legalized retail sales, pay 17 to 20 percent in taxes.

Deputy Tax Commissioner Craig Bolio noted that the recommendations are only in draft form and may change before the governor’s commission issues its final recommendations in December.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

New Haven Man Cautions Cannabis Growers After Thieves Steal His Plants

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2018 at 4:26 PM

Nestled beside the vegetables and a seaberry bush, Mark Krawczyk was raising two cannabis plants in the garden on his 12-acre New Haven property.

But when he woke up Tuesday morning, the stalks had been stripped. Plants that had been bursting with ready-to-harvest cannabis flower were barren.
Krawczyk was devastated.

“We put a lot of care and energy into the plants,” Krawczyk said. “It’s a bummer. We were excited it was legal.”

He and his wife had planted the cannabis behind chickenwire in their 2,000-square-foot garden shortly after Vermont legalized weed on July 1. The property is shielded from Route 7 by a hedgerow, and Krawczyk said the plants weren’t visible from the road, where cars go whizzing by at 55 miles per hour. He theorized that someone scoped out their property, likely from an adjacent hayfield.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Health Department Cautions Drug Users After Spate of Overdoses

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 3:30 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
The state Health Department is urging drug users to take precautions, including keeping the overdose-reversing drug Narcan on hand, after a spate of "several" fatal overdoses in Rutland County and other non-fatal incidents across the state.

The department declined to give specific numbers, citing pending autopsies, but said it believes most of the overdoses are tied to fentanyl, a synthetic opiate many times more powerful than heroin.

In 2017, two-thirds of opiate overdose deaths involved fentanyl, and the number of fatal overdoses involving fentanyl has nearly quadrupled since 2014.

The Health Department says it is concerned that the synthetic opioid is now being mixed with other drugs, including cocaine.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Commission Discusses a Taxed-and-Regulated Cannabis Market for Vermont

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 at 7:16 PM

  • Luke Eastman
Officials in states that have legalized recreational cannabis think Vermont misstepped by not implementing a taxed-and-regulated market, Health Commissioner Mark Levine told a panel tasked with studying the issue.

He spoke Monday during a Statehouse meeting of the Governor’s Marijuana Advisory Commission, which Gov. Phil Scott created by executive order in 2017 shortly after he vetoed a cannabis legalization measure. In January, Scott signed into law a bill that allows Vermonters to grow up to six plants at home and possess up to an ounce of marijuana. It did not legalize the sale or distribution of cannabis.

The commission has continued its work, which one of its cochairs, Tom Little, said was to determine what a taxed-and-regulated system in the state should look like if the legislature chooses to create one. Its final report, due in December, will not include a recommendation as to whether Vermont should — or should not — create such a market, according to Little.

The eight other states that have legalized cannabis allow, or will allow, licensed stores to sell the drug. And Levine, as chair of the commission’s education and prevention subcommittee, said he’d heard from officials in Colorado and Washington state who thought Vermont’s half-measure was a mistake.

“They’re kind of saying, the home-grow route did not allow the degree of surveillance, the degree of monitoring, the degree of regulating that a different environment would have provided,” Levine said. “So their hopes were that we would learn from them and actually graduate from that to another structure.”

He added: "Their recommendation was: Go to tax and regulate."

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Vermont Sues OxyContin Maker for Its Role in the Opiate Crisis

Posted By on Wed, Sep 5, 2018 at 5:34 PM

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan.
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, alleging that the company's aggressive promotion of the drug helped spark the deadly and costly opiate-addiction crisis.

"Purdue Pharma lied, they misrepresented, they fabricated," Donovan said during a press conference outside Chittenden Superior Court, where the lawsuit was filed. "And they spread falsehoods, and they made billions off it — and they created a path of destruction that the State of Vermont is still reeling from."

Donovan said he decided to sue after settlement talks between Purdue, Vermont and other states broke down. The attorney general said he is still open to a settlement, possibly involving other states. But he repeatedly stressed that Vermont has a "compelling story to tell" should it continue to go it alone against the manufacturer of the powerful pain-relief drug.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Vermont AG: It's Illegal for Businesses to 'Gift' Marijuana

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2018 at 11:36 AM

  • Luke Eastman
Updated at 12:35 p.m.

This gift won't legally keep giving.

Selling an item or offering a service that comes with some "free" cannabis is illegal under Vermont's new recreational marijuana law, Attorney General T.J. Donovan declared in an advisory Monday.

The interpretation of the law, which went into effect July 1 and is known as Act 86, comes after several businesses cropped up offering cannabis, edibles and vape cartridges in exchange for a delivery fee. Some entrepreneurs were also selling an overpriced item such as a sticker, T-shirt or bracelet and would throw in a "gift" of marijuana on the side. That kind of transaction is considered a marijuana sale, according to Donovan.

"Any transfer of marijuana for money, barter, or other legal consideration remains illegal under Vermont law," Donovan wrote in the advisory. He added: "Individuals may gift pursuant to the parameters set forth in the law."

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Burlington City Council Waters Down Safe Injection Site Measure

Posted By on Tue, Jul 17, 2018 at 9:31 AM

  • Sean Metcalf
Updated at 9:50 a.m.

The Burlington City Council decided to move forward with a resolution promoting opiate treatment, but inserted key language saying that safe injection sites won’t happen anytime soon.

The council voted 9-3 to endorse buprenorphine treatment and appoint two councilors to the CommunityStat opiate study committee but will not take concrete steps toward establishing a safe injection facility "until the city council affirmatively votes to do so" in a separate vote.

It took two hours of debate and nine proposed amendments Monday night before the council issued its "yes" vote to the altered measure.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Burlington City Council to Weigh In on Safe Injection Sites

Posted By on Mon, Jul 16, 2018 at 11:30 AM

  • Sean Metcalf
The Burlington City Council on Monday will begin discussing the possibility of establishing a safe injection site in the city.

A "yes" vote on a resolution before the council would endorse a menu of opiate treatment options for the Queen City, including distribution of buprenorphine in emergency rooms, supporting opiate treatment for inmates across the state, and offering low-cost or free Narcan to reverse overdoses.

The most controversial item would be a safe injection site, which the resolution refers to as an overdose prevention site. It would provide a place for addicts to consume drugs and would also provide access to medical service, treatment options and clean needles — without legal repercussion.

The resolution does not create a safe injection site. It only encourages the city to move forward with discussions about such a facility. Creating one would involve a lengthy process, "possibly years," before it came to fruition, the resolution acknowledges, and would require a "full community vetting."

The council doesn't actually have authority to enact some of the proposed policies around buprenorphine and Narcan. Still, the resolution is a step in the right direction, said Councilor Karen Paul (D-Ward 6), who's been working on the measure since March.

"The council being on the record supporting and endorsing an overdose prevention site is meaningful," Paul said.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

First Satellite Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in South Burlington

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 3:25 PM

Products at the dispensary - SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • Sasha Goldstein
  • Products at the dispensary
Vermont’s newest medical marijuana dispensary is in a nondescript office park in South Burlington.

Champlain Valley Dispensary opened its newest shop and office space in late June on Green Tree Drive, around the corner from the South Burlington police station. A bill last year allowed each of Vermont’s five medical marijuana dispensary licensees to open a satellite location. Champlain Valley, which opened its flagship downtown Burlington dispensary in 2013, is the first in the state to take advantage of the law.

Location Details Champlain Valley Dispensary (South Burlington)
2 Green Tree Dr.
Chittenden County
South Burlington, VT
Dispensary (MMJ) and CBD Seller
Bridget Conry, Champlain Valley’s director of sales and product development, said the company runs a grow operation in South Burlington and had a good relationship with city officials as it prepared to expand.

“When we had the opportunity, we took it,” said Conry. “It’s not downtown; it’s easier to get to for some patients; it’s quieter; there’s more space and there’s plenty of parking.”

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Sunday, July 1, 2018

Despite Extreme Heat, Vermonters Find Their Chill at Cannabis Legalization Party

Posted By on Sun, Jul 1, 2018 at 6:50 PM

The celebration is on - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • The celebration is on
At 11:05 a.m. on Sunday, seven people were sweating on Flynn Avenue in Burlington, waiting for a shuttle to take them to the Heady Vermont Legalization Celebration in Johnson.

They joked among one another that they shouldn’t have expected a bus for a pot party to, well, be on time. One man offered the others hits on his doobie, and they smoked in a circle, debating whether the parking lot would count as a public place under Vermont’s new cannabis law.

Sunday, July 1 marked the first day cannabis was legalized in Vermont — though some aspects of the law remain open to interpretation. Approximately 1,000 celebrants gathered at the Heady fest at Willow Crossing Farm, while others in southern Vermont attended the Original Green Mountain Cannabis and Music Festival in West Dover.

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