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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Survives Challenge

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MONTPELIER -- Legislation that would allow up to four medical marijuana dispensaries to be established in Vermont survived a close call in the Senate Rules Committee on Thursday.

The bill was sent to the five-member rules committee because it didn't meet the Senate's self-imposed deadline. At a morning meeting, three of the five committee members expressed hesitation at letting the bill reach the full Senate, but agreed to revisit the issue in the afternoon.

Senate Government Operations Committee Chairwoman Jeanette White, D-Windham, explained to the panel that the bill made it out of her committee by the first deadline and was delayed in the Finance Committee so that the state's public safety commissioner could figure out what fees should be charged for the dispensaries.

Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle/Chitttenden, a member of the Rules Committee, said he doesn't support the dispensary bill, but he agreed the process had been reasonable and he wouldn't block it.

"In all fairness, I think the Senate's entitled to vote on it," he said. The committee voted 5-0 to allow the bill to be considered. It is on the Senate's schedule for Tuesday.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Vermont since 2004, for those with qualifying illnesses -- including cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis -- who sign up for the state's registry. The 2004 law allows patients to grow their own marijuana, but advocates say many find that difficult.

The answer, advocates say, is to legalize a small number of medical marijuana dispensaries -- nonprofit operations that would grow marijuana and sell it to those on the medical marijuana registry. Some worry, however, that the dispensaries will become drug havens and the medical marijuana registry will quickly be flooded with those looking for a legal way to smoke pot.

Vermont has 344 people on its medical marijuana registry, each of whom pays $50 a year and must provide proof from a medical professional of a qualifying condition. Half of those on the registry are over age 50 and one-quarter have cancer, Flynn said. According to the national Medical Marijuana Project, Vermont has the smallest medical marijuana program in the country.

News Hawk- Jacob Husky 420 MAGAZINE
Source: burlingtonfreepress.com
Author: Terri Hallenbeck
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: burlingtonfreepress.com
Website: Medical marijuana dispensary bill survives challenge
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