Vermont has seen significant expansions to its medical cannabis laws, including an increase in homegrown plant limits for patients and a rise in allowable THC content in medical cannabis products. These changes came into effect under a legislation that Gov. Phil Scott (R) allowed to become law without his signature, which also included adding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use.
Under the new legislation, medical cannabis patients in Vermont are now permitted to cultivate up to 12 plants, with a maximum of six mature ones at any given time. Furthermore, medical cannabis products can now contain up to 100 milligrams of THC per serving, marking a significant increase in potency.
In a letter to lawmakers, Gov. Scott explained his decision to permit the legislation without his endorsement. He cited concerns related to the repeal of the sunset provision for the Cannabis Control Board (CCB), which he argues carries significant implications for the principle of separation of powers.
According to Gov. Scott, while the creation of an alternative structure for controlling substances that remain federally illegal is necessary to avoid compromising federal funding, the removal of the CCB’s sunset clause needs careful scrutiny. He called for clarification on the statutory authority of the CCB to ensure constitutionality and accountability to the governor.
Scott also noted that the CCB, once appointed, gives its members exclusive rights to remove other members for cause, and has seen considerable growth, taking over the regulation of medical cannabis and the medical registry, thereby becoming an approximately 22-member department.
Scott expressed his concerns about the lack of oversight over the CCB, an independent entity that now regulates a multi-million-dollar industry. He warned that the lack of oversight could potentially create a risk for future mismanagement, conflicts of interest, and other harmful impacts, even while expressing confidence in the current CCB.
Scott outlined his plan to collaborate with the CCB and lawmakers to develop legislation that would clarify the statutory authority of the CCB and ensure it is constitutional. His decision to let the bill become law without his signature reflects a balance between expanding access to medical cannabis and maintaining checks and balances in its regulation.
As Vermont navigates this new frontier of medical cannabis regulation, other states may look to its approach as a potential model for handling the complex issues of cannabis legality, regulatory oversight, and medical use. It’s a careful balancing act that illustrates the challenges of bringing a once-illicit substance into mainstream medical use.
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