Cannabis legalization stalls in New England

After making progress on marijuana reform, the legalization movement has stalled in two New England states, writes Calvin Hughes.

Cannabis became legal in Vermont last July, but state lawmakers did not put a regulated market for marijuana in place at that time. So while adults in Vermont can possess, grow and consume cannabis, they can't buy it legally.


Bill to regulate and tax cannabis sales advances in Vermont

A Vermont House of Representatives committee approved a bill last week that would create a system to tax and regulate commercial cannabis sales in the state. The measure, S. 54, was approved by the House Government Operations Committee on Thursday by a vote of 10-1. The bill was passed by the Vermont Senate in February by a margin of 23-5.

S. 54 has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and is also expected to be considered by the Appropriations Committee before a floor vote, which must come before the end of the legislative session on Friday. Matt Simon, the New England political director for cannabis policy reform group the Marijuana Policy Project, urged members of the House to take swift action on the bill.


Ben & Jerry's call for mass expungement of cannabis convictions

This 4/20, Vermont-based ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's took a stand against the racial injustice of cannabis prohibition, writes Calvin Hughes.


Colleges are launching cannabis degrees and certificate programs

Cannabis is coming to the classroom.

The first degrees in cannabis chemistry will be offered beginning this fall at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., according to the university’s website. The soon-to-be-launched program will offer both associate and bachelor’s degrees, and will equip students “with the knowledge necessary to gain employment in emergent cannabis markets.”


Hemp farmers work to set industry apart from marijuana

Daniel Chang, co-owner and operator of Kria Botanicals, moved to Vermont with his family four years ago expressly to join the state’s fast-growing hemp industry.

Although at that point hemp, the cannabis plant that does not contain high levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC, still had a low profile in Vermont, Chang saw opportunity in the state’s agricultural economy and its reputation for quality products.


Now Chang, who ran a microbrewery in Minnesota, operates a CBD extraction company and laboratory in South Burlington. He was one of several hemp industry leaders who got together at the Statehouse on Friday to talk to lawmakers about their business. CBD is a product with medicinal uses that is extracted from the hemp plant.


Vermont supreme court rules marijuana smell is not grounds for search

January is already shaking out to be a big month for court rulings on the civil and criminal liabilities people should or shouldn’t face over the smell of cannabis. On the heels of a federal judge’s dismissal of a racketeering lawsuit against a smelly cannabis farmer, the Vermont Supreme Court has ruled that certain marijuana odors are not grounds for a search of persons or seizure of property. The important ruling creates a binding legal precedent across all courts in Vermont and comes at the end of a lengthy lawsuit by the Vermont ACLU.


A Vermont Supreme Court ruling on marijuana and traffic stops is a landmark victory for racial justice

The Vermont Supreme Court issued a one-two punch against police misconduct on Friday in a landmark case involving privacy rights, racial discrimination, and marijuana. The justices first rendered the state liable for unreasonable searches and seizures—meaning victims of law enforcement overreach can sue the government for monetary damages. They then held that the faint odor of marijuana in a car does not justify its seizure by the state. The decision rests solely on the state constitution and effectively rejects widely criticized U.S. Supreme Court precedent to the contrary.


Marijuana advocates warn against overregulation at Hartford talk

More than a dozen Vermonters who are proponents of a legal marijuana market urged state officials on Thursday to not overregulate a potential industry and keep it true to Vermont’s values.

Their comments came at a public meeting that followed the recent release of three reports by the Governor’s Marijuana Advisory Commission, which examined roadway safety, education and prevention, and taxation and regulation of a legal market.


Enthusiasm over CBD helps fuel growing hemp market in Vermont

The number of farmers who registered with the state of Vermont to grow hemp rose more than 400 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to the state Agency of Agriculture. The amount of acreage reported to be under cultivation increased 450 percent, with growth spread fairly evenly around the state.

Hemp cultivation has risen rapidly where it is allowed on the trail of the huge market for CBD, or cannabidiol, a product of the hemp plant that is widely believed to have health-giving benefits.


Vermont CBD makers and sellers stress purity, standards

Derek Mercury, owner of Jeffersonville, Vermont-based Maple Plus, says simple is better.

“It’s a very simple product,” he says of the enhanced maple sugar that became available on April 20 of this year. “There’s just two ingredients.”

Those ingredients: maple sugar derived from Vermont pure maple syrup and cannabidiol (CBD), one of the chemical components of hemp, which he adds in the production.


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