|Photo: Grateful Meds|
An effort to provide eligible patients in Vermont with safe and legal access to medical marijuana could move forward this week when a Senate committee votes on whether to create state-licensed dispensaries for cannabis.
The Senate Committee on Government Operations is scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill which would establish up to five “compassion centers” at which patients could buy medical pot, reports Peter Hirschfield of the Vermont Press Bureau.
Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham County) chairs the committee, and is the lead sponsor of the bill. White said Monday that she hopes the legislation will see a vote on the full Senate floor before the crossover deadline Friday to send bills to the state House.
Almost 200 residents of Vermont are enrolled on the state’s medical marijuana registry. The state legalized medical cannabis in 2004, but patients are struggling to find the herb.
“We’ve approved medical marijuana usage in Vermont but the people that are certified and registered with the state to legitimately use it can’t get it anywhere except by criminal activity,” White said.
According to White, without a legal way to buy marijuana, patients are forced to find the herb through “unsavory” channels.
“It’s hard for an 80-year-old woman to go around and try to find someplace she can get it,” White said.
While Vermont’s medical marijuana law allows patients to grow their own plants, White said that too can be difficult for people with serious medical conditions — not to mention the challenge of finding seeds.
“I don’t know if it will pass the Senate floor,” white said. “I don’t even know if it will pass out of my committee.”
Even if the bill passes government operations committee, it may not get a full Senate vote before the deadline. Senate Majority Leader John Campbell, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he believes the legislation needs “serious vetting” by the judiciary committee before it’s ready for a vote by the full chamber.