Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan joined a group of legislative leaders in calling for recreational marijuana sales to be permitted in the state.

The group gathered for a news conference in the build-up to Gov. Phil Scott’s State of the State address to express support for an adult-use cannabis sales framework. Vermont legalized recreational cannabis consumption and home growing in 2018, but sales were not legalized, leaving the state in limbo.

“Let me tell you what isn’t the Vermont way: telling Vermonters that you can legally possess cannabis, but being absolutely silent on how they obtain it,” said Donovan.

Gov. Scott privately signed Vermont’s marijuana bill into law in January 2018, making it the ninth state to approve recreational marijuana use. It was the first to authorize adult-use cannabis by an act of state legislature as opposed to a voter referendum, an approach Illinois has since followed.

At the time, Scott said he signed it with mixed emotions, adding that what adults do behind closed doors on private property is their choice. However, Vermont did not implement any mechanism for sale or taxation, so it is not making any revenue gains from cannabis.

Donovan is keen to change all that and he hosted an event called “Conversation About Cannabis: Lessons from our Neighbors” in Burlington last month. It focused on developments in Maine and Massachussetts, bringing in representatives from both states to educate Vermonters on the potential benefits of operating a proper adult-use cannabis industry.

Vermonters can head into either state to buy cannabis, or they are forced to turn to the illicit market.

Last year a bill called S. 54 gained approval in the senate. It would regulate cannabis sales across the state, implement licenses for cultivation, wholesale, product manufacture, retail, and testing in labs, while authorizing a cannabis excise tax of 10% on all sales and creating a Cannabis Control Board.

S. 54 also passed the House Committee on Government Operations and it now needs to be scrutinized and potentially amended by other House committees before it can go before the House for a full vote. If it gains approval there, it would go to Scott’s desk.

He did not mention marijuana in his State of the State address, and he has never fully endorsed it.

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