Vermont lawmakers have approved a bill that expands the state’s medical marijuana program by adding to its list of qualifiable conditions and permitting dispensaries to open more locations.
A bill to expand Vermont’s medical marijuana program was recently passed by lawmakers and will be soon sent to Gov. Phil Scott for consideration.
Senate Bill 16, once signed into law, would expand the list of qualifying medical cannabis conditions to include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Crohn’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. The bill would also allow medical marijuana dispensaries to open multiple locations, potentially doubling locations in Vermont from four to eight.
The bill was given preliminary approval by the House of Representatives with a 130 to 16 vote by voice. It already passed the Senate in February.
Research indicates that cannabis can reduce the anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks that plague those with PTSD, a mental condition that develops following a traumatic event. Cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties have shown to be beneficial for combatting symptoms of Crohn’s disease, and in some cases leads to long-term remission. Studies also suggest that cannabis can slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease and reduce the tremors and rigidity associated with the progressive nervous system disorder.
The medical marijuana law currently in place in Vermont allows medical marijuana to be recommended for patients diagnosed with cancer, HIV and AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and conditions that cause cachexia, seizures, pain, or nausea. Patients in hospice care can also be approved.
Registered patients are legally allowed to possess up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana, or grow 2 mature plants and 7 immature plants. An earlier draft of Senate Bill 16 called for continuing the requirement that qualified patients decide between growing marijuana and buying it from a dispensary. The latest version permits patients to both grow and purchase marijuana.
The measure also would also allow medical specialists to immediately issue recommendations for medical marijuana for patients diagnosed with cancer, AIDS, or a terminal illness, or under hospice care. As the law stands now, all patients must have a minimum of a three-month relationship with a physician before being recommended medical marijuana.
Vermont is one of 29 U.S. states to have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Vermont lawmakers first legalized it in 2004, and since then two amendments have been made to expand access to patients. Research has found that providing legal access to marijuana significantly reduces prescriptions for nausea, depression, seizures and psychosis, and can help decrease opioid painkiller use and hospitalizations. The nation’s medical marijuana market is projected to reach $5.3 billion in 2017 before growing to $13.2 billion by 2025.
The Vermont House just also approved a recreational marijuana measure by a vote of 75 to 71, and that bill will now move to the Senate, where it is unlikely to be brought up for debate until next year. A March 2017 survey from Public Policy Polling found that 57 percent of Vermont voters support legalizing recreational marijuana for adults over 21 years of age.
You can learn more about the decades of research on cannabis and its potential therapeutic effects by visiting our education page. Our news feed will keep you updated on the latest developments in the legal cannabis industry.