Senate passes medical marijuana dispensary bill


The Senate Tuesday passed a bill expanding the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state from four to six.

The bill, S.247, passed on a voice vote. It now heads to the House.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Vermont in 2004. The fourth dispensary opened several weeks ago in Brattleboro.

So far, 1,156 patients statewide have registered to receive medical marijuana, according to the Vermont Department of Public Safety. The number of registrations is up from 1,017 last month, according to a figure DPS provided the Senate Finance Committee in February.

The other dispensaries are in Burlington, Montpelier and Brandon.

Of the registered patients, 642 have selected dispensaries, according to Francis Aumand, director of the criminal justice services division of DPS. Another 375 patients grow their own, he said.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeannette White, D-Windham, would also increase from two to four ounces the amount of marijuana a dispensary can cultivate and possess per patient. That rule applies to dispensaries that serve more than 14 patients.

The list of "debilitating medical conditions" that qualify a person to apply for a registry identification card includes cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV and other conditions. A provision that would have added post-traumatic stress disorder to the list was stricken.

The annual dispensary registration fee paid to the Department of Public Safety would be $25,000 during years in which audits are required. Otherwise the annual registration fee is $30,000 and $20,000 in the first year of operation.


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