Study of marijuana’s revenue potential revived

Speaker of the Vermont House Shap Smith of Lamoille County before the start of the 2014 legislative session. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDigger

Speaker of the Vermont House Shap Smith of Lamoille County before the start of the 2014 legislative session. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDigger

Lawmakers on Thursday resurrected a push to study whether legalizing and taxing marijuana would make money for the state.

Some lawmakers were upset last month when House Speaker Shap Smith quashed an amendment calling for the study when members tried to attach it to the miscellaneous tax bill.

The amendment found new life Thursday when the House Ways and Means Committee voted to attach it to S.247, a bill about marijuana dispensaries.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Dave Sharpe, D-Bristol, asks the secretary of administration to report to the Legislature by Jan. 15 about taxation and regulation of marijuana in Vermont.

The report would analyze three things: possible ways to tax marijuana, including sales and excise taxes; possible revenue, savings or costs to the state from regulating marijuana; and the experience of other states with regulating and taxing marijuana.

Rep. Kristina Michelsen, D-Hardwick, sponsor of the original amendment to study marijuana revenue, Thursday said she was glad the proposal had resurfaced.

The House committee that vetted the marijuana bill Thursday said it would not take a formal position on the amendment. It is unrelated to the underlying bill, which has to do with dispensaries, House Human Services Committee members said.

“To me it’s really a separate issue, and so OK if people are going to vote on it at the same time that’s fine, but it’s a separate issue,” said Rep. Ann Pugh, D-South Burlington, chair of House Human Services.

It does not put the underlying bill in jeopardy, she said Pugh.

House Human Services decided not to include post-traumatic stress disorder as a condition that qualifies a person for medical marijuana. They also nixed a Senate provision that added two additional dispensaries to the existing four.

“I think (the amendment) is totally different than the bill, the policy that we were setting in the bill,” said committee member Rep. Matthew Treiber, D-Bellows Falls. Treiber supported adding PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions.

“Right. And it’s not relevant to our jurisdiction,” said Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield, a committee member who voted against adding PTSD.

Smith, who opposes legalizing marijuana, in March said he is not against the study but in the context of other amendments at that time, believed it was not germane to the underlying tax bill.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn, who supports the dispensary bill as passed by the House, did not respond to requests for comment on the study amendment.

Laura Krantz

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17 Comments on "Study of marijuana’s revenue potential revived"

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Bill Olenick
2 years 1 month ago
Drug wars lost over 40 years ago. First, legalize pot. The state should pass a law allowing the towns to tax weed as they see fit, creating mini economic booms, and fostering a can do competition spirit, among the towns ,with the state benefiting through increased income tax base, resulting from the economic activity generated by legalization, so the main money stays in the local communities,where it belongs and can do the most direct good, rather then end up in a centralized, state run program that costs heaps of money taxpayers can no longer afford and additional costly rules and… Read more »
Paul Richards
2 years 1 month ago
“Lawmakers on Thursday resurrected a push to study whether legalizing and taxing marijuana would make money for the state.” Really? We need to do a study to figure this out? Obviously that activity in and of itself would make money for the state. Unfortunately it will cost us far more than it takes in. The regulations required for the industry will wipe out any revenue gains and the effects on our society will be immeasurable. One thing for sure is that there will be a lot more dumb people walking around, dependent on the system and voting to maintain their… Read more »
Jason Wells
2 years 1 month ago

“the effects on our society will be immeasurable” Really from pot?? Come on now. That’s good for a chuckle though. I bet you have met and known many many people who smoke regularly and have you have no clue they due.

“One thing for sure is that there will be a lot more dumb people walking around, dependent on the system and voting to maintain their lifestyle. Looks like a win win situation for the growing size of the one party system currently in place.”

There are two words for that statement REEFER MADNESS!

Carl Marcinkowski
2 years 1 month ago

Legal status for cannabis/hemp is long overdue. When considering revenue sources marijuana is much more social friendly than alcohol or gambling, both of which are presently providing state money.

Jason Wells
2 years 1 month ago

“Ween the do gooders in Montpelier off of their drug, the taxpayer dollar”

Well said!!

2 years 1 month ago

When has a new tax EVER deduced anything? Even with this new MJ tax the people of Vermont would not realize any reduction in anything but should instead expect an increase to the size of Government, like Mr. Olenick expressed above. I also agree with his suggestion to leave the money in the Towns, what a boom and a real chance to reduce property tax. Bravo Mr. Olenick! Yes, deregulate the people and we will show these leaders how to “grow” an economy.

Dr Daniel S Muffoletto ND
2 years 1 month ago
As a naturopath,I can tell you this God given nature blessed herb has helped many people.it has many advantages over pharmaceutical drugs. The real question is to follow the money. There is a need, there is a harm. If someone is against providing a natural form of pain relief to another human being, they are are getting a pay off. They are fearing competition, like the big drug companies.They are being paid by black market pot growers who want to keep high profits,and not be taxed.There is another group of people who feel that ideologically, that it is wrong to… Read more »
Matthew Choate
2 years 1 month ago

Agree 100% with letting this be a municipal tax – keeps regulation local and revenues still flow – your towns are not going to bloat their governments, they are going to support their schools and municipal budgets, taking pressure of the State Ed fund.

sandra bettis
2 years 1 month ago

shap smith and keith flynn should not have so much power over whether a bill even gets introduced and what types of treatment medical marijuana is used for. why should one person have so much control? if the legs listen to the people as they did with the gmo’s, we are all set.

Jason Wells
2 years 1 month ago

Perhaps a last minute threat in person by Mr. Flynn will occur here as well.

Angela Bennett
2 years 1 month ago

Seriously? They have to “study” whether or not it will bring in revenue and how to do it? OMG, we are in so much trouble with these idiots in authority.

Duuuuh…we’ve been taxing alcohol and tobacco for a LONG time now. Not rocket science. sigh…

Mike Barone
2 years 1 month ago
The only way each town/ municipality could benefit via a local tax is to allow a dispensary in each town but instead, 4 of 6 dispensaries will be allowed to the “chosen ones”. Perhaps consideration might be given to the cost of automobile insurance,homeowners insurance etc as we recon with increased legal actions arising from cannibis intoxication. Auto accidence and judgment accidents”. We didn’t call the other kid the druggy , a space cadet for no reason in our past youth days did we”. Or how about workers compensation / disability insurance increases because the employee forgot to move his… Read more »
2 years 1 month ago

Mike, School children will not legally be able to buy or smoke/eat MJ.

Todd Spayth
2 years 1 month ago

PLUS…Turn on spelling AND grammar;-)

Mike Barone
2 years 1 month ago
And what are we legally or illegally preventing you or me from doing now? With three children passing through one of the better organized and higher parental participating grade schools programs in this beautiful state, I can promises and attest, that pot was prevalent then and is now. All we as parents could do then and likely now is to project personal controles as they moved through the peer pressure stages and profess moderation in everything they choose to partake in. Having blinders on or our head in the sand only exacerbated the problem. Legalization can only lead to otherwise… Read more »
Peter Everett
2 years 29 days ago
I know I’m “not with it”, nor, do I want to be. The day this passes is the day the “FOR SALE” sign goes up on my property. I’m planning on leaving VT after my granddaughter, who lives with us, graduates from high school. This bill will just hasten the move. I moved to VT because of the beauty of the state. Little did I know how messed up it really is. This state is nothing more than seeing how much money it can take in. Doesn’t make any difference where they get it from. The appetite for money is… Read more »
Kathy Nelson
2 years 29 days ago

It’s my understanding that marijuana and hemp make excellent biofuel.

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