Health Care

Senate advances medical marijuana expansion

The Vermont Senate advanced a bill Wednesday that would expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

The bill, S.16, would create more licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries and allow more patients to access the system.

Senators approved the bill on a voice vote with no opposition.

The bill doubles the number of dispensary licenses available in the state from four to eight. When taking testimony on the bill, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard that patients who live in some parts of the state, such as Bennington County or the Northeast Kingdom, face long journeys to reach the nearest dispensary.

Dispensaries would also be allowed to advertise, which is currently prohibited. Ads would not be allowed near schools, could not appeal to children and would have to carry a written warning on the effects of marijuana.

The legislation also expands the list of health conditions that qualify for the medical marijuana registry to include post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

The bill is expected to come up for final approval in the Senate on Thursday. If it passes, it will move to the House. House lawmakers are working on a separate measure that would legalize adult possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.

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Elizabeth Hewitt

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