Heady Vermont Hosts Second Annual Hemp Fest – Sept. 8-9 in Burke

VERMONT: Heady Vermont will host its second annual Vermont Hemp Fest, taking place September 8-9, 2018 at Burke Mountain Hotel and Conference Center in East Burke, Vermont.

Already one of Vermont’s premiere cannabis events, Hemp Fest 2018 will feature two days of programming, including a keynote address from Oregon CBD’s Seth Crawford, Ph.D, agricultural, hemp and CBD exhibitors, an exclusive investors’ forum, food trucks, live music, yoga, and a hemp brunch on Sunday morning. This event will not include cannabis containing THC and is open to all ages.

Hemp Fest 2018’s interactive panel presentations will include topics such as CBD Hemp Cultivation, Harvesting, Testing, processing CBD products, selling your Vermont hemp crop, Industrial Hemp Processing, Starting a Vermont Hemp Business, Insurance, Compliance and Staying Legal, State and Federal Cannabis Regulations, and Making CBD Products.

“People around the country and region are starting to realize that Vermont is quickly becoming a national leader in CBD and Hemp cultivation,” says Heady Vermont co-founder and Hemp Fest organizer Eli Harrington. “The number of registered hemp permits in Vermont has quadrupled, public interest and business interest has increased exponentially. It’s still early in the hemp industry and this is the kind of event where people in the northeast get together and make those priceless connections in person.”

Reflecting the growth of the CBD Hemp industry in Vermont and nationally, the 2018 Vermont Hemp Fest will feature keynote speaker Seth Crawford, Ph.D., co-founder of Oregon CBD, one of the country’s largest cannabis breeding companies. Crawford thinks that this year’s Hemp Fest is happening at a critical historical moment.

“Once the Farm Bill is signed into law,” says Crawford, “non-psychoactive cannabis becomes legal nationwide. Those endless fields of cannabis we used to dream about during prohibition are now possible. Some are already being grown by forward thinking farmers in early adopting pilot program states like Vermont and are being transformed into food, fiber, oil, and flowers. This is literally the ground floor of an international market for a crop with limitless potential.”

Preference for vendor spaces is being given to Vermont companies, and while tickets are $40 for the general public, discounted tickets are available to Heady Vermont members, residents of the Northeast Kingdom, patients, caregivers and veterans. Full weekend tickets and Sunday Only passes are both available for purchase on the Heady Vermont website.

As a sponsor, Burke Mountain is offering a limited number of 25% discounted rooms starting at $112 per night to attendees and exhibitors from Thursday, September 6 through Sunday, September 9, 2018. Those discounts can be redeemed by booking directly on the Burke Mountain Hotel website by using the code ‘HFEST’. In addition to the hotel, campsites are available at the Burke Mountain Campground’s 25 sites and 5 lean-tos. Both those accommodations can be booked on the Burke Mountain Hotel website, or by calling the hotel directly at (866) 966-4820.

Hemp Fest sponsors include iaso goods, Lily Hill, Vermont Hempicurean, and Ropana CBD.

Address: Burke Mountain Hotel and Conference Center, 2559 Mountain Rd, East Burke, VT. Saturday, September 8, 11am – 10pm, Sunday, September 9, 10am-1pm.

Vermont: Adult Use Marijuana Law Enacted

VERMONT: Legislation permitting adults to legally possess and grow set quantities of cannabis for their own personal use took effect on Sunday, July 1.

Vermont joins Alaska, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington in legalizing the adult possession and use of marijuana. It is the first state to enact legalization via an act of the legislature rather than by the passage of a voter initiative.

The new law, which Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed in January, legalizes the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, as well as the private cultivation of six marijuana plants (two mature and up to four immature). Those who cultivate marijuana for their own personal use may possess at home the total quantity of their harvest. The measure also imposes new civil penalties with regard to the consumption of cannabis while driving, and imposes additional penalties for those who operate a motor vehicle impaired with a minor in the vehicle.

summary of the law is available online.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott Signs H. 511 Legalizing Marijuana For Adult Use

VERMONT:  On January 22nd, 2018 Governor Phil Scott signed H. 511, An act relating to eliminating penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older, into law.

Read his full message to the General Assembly below:

“Today, with mixed emotions, I have signed H. 511.

“As I said when I vetoed S. 22 in May, I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children.  In this context, it is very important to understand what H. 511 does and does not do.

“While this legislation decriminalizes, for adults 21 and older, personal possession of no more than 1 ounce, and cultivation of two mature plants on their private property, marijuana remains a controlled substance in Vermont and its sale is prohibited.  Also, consumption of marijuana in public places is prohibited.  Consumption of marijuana by operators and passengers in a motor vehicle is prohibited.  Schools, employers, municipalities and landlords are also empowered to adopt policies and ordinances further restricting the cultivation and use.

“In addition, when we negotiated a compromise prior to the veto session in June, I insisted the legislation also include:

  • Stronger criminal and civil penalties for selling to or enabling the consumption of marijuana by someone under 21;
  • Criminal penalties for using marijuana in a motor vehicle with a child present;
  • Criminal penalties for using or growing marijuana at facilities serving children.
  • Clear legal liability of the consequences of making marijuana available to minors.
  • Strict penalties for possession of marijuana by those convicted of felony sale of marijuana, selling a regulated drug to minors, or on school grounds;
  • Stronger penalties and fines for open containers in a motor vehicle; and
  • Marijuana in excess of the permitted limit remains contraband and subject to seizure and forfeiture.

“H. 511 included these additional protections.

“My S.22 veto message also plainly expressed my reservations about a commercial system which depends on profit motive and market driven demand for its growth.  I look forward to the Marijuana Advisory Commission addressing the need to develop comprehensive education, prevention and highway safety strategies. To be very direct:  There must be comprehensive and convincing plans completed in these areas before I will begin to consider the wisdom of implementing a commercial “tax and regulate” system for an adult marijuana market. It is important for the General Assembly to know that – until we have a workable plan to address each of these concerns – I will veto any additional effort along these lines, which manages to reach my desk.

“More importantly, as I noted in my State of the State address, I ask the General Assembly to now turn its efforts to addressing more significant issues faced by Vermonters in their daily lives.”

Click here to view the letter sent to the General Assembly.

Legalization In Vermont, 6 questions For MPP’s Matt Simon

by Bailey Hirschburg 

Vermont is poised to become the first state to legalize cannabis through its legislature, rather than the ballot box. House Bill 170 narrowly passed the house early last month, the bill would all legalize possession of up to an ounce of cannabis and growing up six plants (2 mature, 4 immature) by people 21 and older.

Matt Simon is the New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and on the staff of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana (VCRM). The coalition represents individuals and organizations around the state favoring reform.

I met Mr. Simon in 2007, while he was the executive director for the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy. Since working with MPP, he’s made progress in both states. He was significantly involved in the successful 2013 campaign for Vermont’s decriminalization law and that same year led the efforts to allow medical marijuana in New Hampshire.

Last month, Republican Governor Phil Scott vetoed HB 170, and sent recommendations back to the legislature. I talked with Simon about what comes next.

Bailey Hirschburg: You’ve had some experience helping Vermont to decriminalize marijuana in 2013, and lobbying for reform in neighboring New Hampshire. How did those efforts impact your group’s ability to make progress on legalization this year?

Matt Simon: MPP has been involved in Vermont since roughly 2002. We campaigned for the medical marijuana law, which passed in 2004, and then for the bill that added dispensaries in 2007. We pushed for the decriminalization bill that passed in 2013, and this year we were pleased to see the legislature finally include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying medical condition. The reforms we championed have worked well and haven’t led to the problems that critics warned about, which is why I think most legislators now take us very seriously. At this point, the only complaints he hear about Vermont’s marijuana policy reforms are that they haven’t yet gone far enough.

[Following this interview, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed Senate Bill 16 into law. As well as PTSD, the bill adds Parkinson’s and Crohn’s disease, allows expanded dispensary locations, personal cultivation rights for patients, among other changes.]

BH: States that have legalized marijuana so far have done it at the ballot box. What were the main differences in how you lobby a legislature versus the general public?

MS: It’s completely different. By nature it’s a slow and deliberate process. One reason is that lawmakers hear from a loud minority of the public who are eager to call or complain, while supporters of reform are sometimes reluctant to speak their minds. Another reason is that elected officials tend to be an older demographic than the general voting public, and many have close relationships with law enforcement leaders and other opponents of reform. We know that legalization enjoys majority support from the public, but getting a majority of legislators on board with a specific bill is a very different and much more difficult task.

BH: On cannabis, your biggest allies or opponents are often well known. How did you identify and influence politicians on the fence about legalized pot? 

MS: Our success this year hinged on being able to get a bill through the House Judiciary Committee, which had rejected legalization in the previous year. We had more success in that committee framing the issue as bi-partisan criminal justice reform than as a commercial opportunity. But we still had members to convince, and we were able to do so by organizing effective testimony and working to address each legislator’s concerns. Some legislators who voted in favor still had concerns, but they understood that prohibition is a failed policy, and many felt a sense of inevitability, knowing that marijuana has already been legalized in Massachusetts and Maine.

[Massachusetts and Maine legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, and Connecticut is discussing legalization in its legislature.]

BH: Governor Scott’s veto of this came with specific recommendations for penalties to using cannabis while driving, around children, and giving Vermont longer to study a taxation and regulation. How likely is the legislature to address those concerns during the veto session?

MS: Well, none of it is a deal breaker. Will the legislature be able to agree on policy changes in advance of the June 21st veto session? I think so. The bigger question is whether, procedurally, it will be possible to pass a new bill through both chambers of the legislature during a veto session that is only supposed to last two days. If that turns out to not be possible, the bill could pass in a special session later this year (if one is called) or when the legislature reconvenes in January.

BH: If they do, do you trust Gov. Scott will keep his word and sign it into law?

MS: I think [the legislature] will make the changes Scott wants, and I think he will sign the bill when it comes to his desk. He has a chance to be a hero to a lot of people by signing it.

BH: Has there been any involvement or response from the U.S. Justice Department?

MS: (Chuckling) No. If they can’t stop Washington D.C. from allowing marijuana possession and cultivation, what are they gonna do in Vermont?

Vermont: Governor Rejects Marijuana Depenalization Measure

VERMONT:  Republican Gov. Phil Scott has rejected legislation, Senate Bill 22, that sought to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for the adult use and possession of marijuana. The Governor said that he did not support the legislation as written, but remains open to working with lawmakers over the summer on ways to amend the state’s cannabis policies.

Representatives from the Vermont Association of Police Chiefs, the Vermont Medical Society, and the Vermont American Academy of Pediatrics were among those groups opposing S. 22.

“It is disappointing that Gov. Scott would not only defy the will of state legislators, but also the will of the majority of Vermont voters who support ending criminal penalties for those adults who consume cannabis responsibly,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Minor marijuana possession offenders should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it. Rather than looking to the future, Gov. Scott seems intent on repeating the failures of the past.”

Senate Bill 22 would have amended state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to two mature plants (and up to four immature plants) would have no longer been subject to penalty, beginning July 1, 2018. It also established a nine member commission to make recommendations to the legislature regarding how best to regulate the adult use marijuana market.

State lawmakers approved the measure earlier this month. It was the first time that a legislative body ever approved legislation eliminating criminal and civil penalties for adults who possess or grow marijuana for non-medical purposes.

House lawmakers in 2016 rejected similar legislation. That measure had been supported by former Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Senate Leaders: Vermont Pot Bill Unlikely To Pass

By Associated Press 

VERMONT: Top Senate lawmakers in Vermont say passing a marijuana legalization bill is becoming exceedingly unlikely.

The Vermont House is still debating their version of a legalization bill, which would simply legalize personal cannabis use, possession and cultivation. There are just over three weeks to go in the lawmaking session and Senate lawmakers expected the bill to get to them weeks ago.

Senate leaders also say the House bill would continue to allow for a black market, and they favor a law that would tax and regulate sales of the plant. A Senate measure in 2016 that proposed a legal marijuana market died in the House last year.

Vermont’s constitution disallows referendums, thwarting another avenue to legalize marijuana as other states have done.


Vermont Legislative Committee To Ponder State Marijuana Laws

VERMONT: A Vermont lawmaker says the House Judiciary Committee is likely to consider the further decriminalization of marijuana — or even its legalization — in the current session.

Democratic Rep. Maxine Grad, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, says the decriminalization of marijuana has been working well in Vermont.

Grad, of Moretown, tells the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus she’s uncomfortable with current law that makes possessing one type of marijuana a civil violation while possession of another type remains a criminal offense.

Last year, the Senate passed legislation that would have created a legal, regulated marijuana market in Vermont, but the measure was easily defeated in the House.

New Republican Gov. Phil Scott has said he is in no hurry to legalize marijuana.

Patients, Growers Consider Hemp Oil Law In Vermont

VERMONT: Shelly Waterman was looking for a miracle that could cure her daughter’s seizures.

Her daughter Hannah, 13, has neurological disorders. She has experienced seizures multiple times each day for most of her life. Two years ago, doctors diagnosed her with a rare and severe type of epilepsy that causes various types of seizures.

“We’ve been on five or six, maybe seven different pharmaceuticals, all in combination,” Waterman said. “None of which are able to say you are going to be seizure free.”

Hannah had gone three days without a single seizure, her mother said one afternoon in early September. Waterman of Burlington attributes this improvement to the combination of pharmaceutical drugs and a type of hemp oil from Colorado.


Previously Undecided, House Speaker Shap Smith Now Favors Legalization

VERMONT:  Backers of a plan to legalize marijuana in Vermont have received some significant legislative support from House Speaker Shap Smith.

For more than a year, Smith has been undecided about this issue but now he says he’ll work to pass a legalization bill in the 2016 session.

For months, Smith has taken a “wait and see” position concerning the legalization of marijuana. He said he wanted to remain undecided until Vermont lawmakers could closely evaluate the experience of Colorado and Washington, the two states that have legalized marijuana for more than a year.


Vermont Lawmakers Threaten To Reinstate Prohibition If Pot Isn’t Legalized

VERMONT: Vermont may well become the next state to legalize marijuana, and two state lawmakers who support legalization have a simple message for their colleagues: Give us what we want, or we’ll take away your booze.

A new bill filed earlier this month by state Reps. Jean O’Sullivan and Christopher Pearson would effectively reinstate alcohol prohibition in Vermont. If passed, House Bill 502 would outlaw consumption of alcohol, with penalties mirroring those currently in place for marijuana possession. Those found with small amounts of alcohol would be subject to fines of up to $500, and anyone involved in the sale and distribution stream could face up to 30 years in prison and $1 million in penalties.

O’Sullivan herself acknowledges that even she doesn’t support the substance of the bill. Rather, “the object was to basically embarrass leadership to say that we have [marijuana legalization bills] in front of us, and they’re going absolutely nowhere,” she told The Huffington Post.