Veto Request on Cannabis Taxation and Regulation Bill, S.54

Dear Jason, Rebecca, and Xusana,

Please find attached a letter to Governor Scott, signed on behalf of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, urging him to veto S.54 upon arrival.  This bill has been flawed from start to finish and not only ignores the Administration’s opportunity to repair harm and ensure equity but is also actually harmful to African Americans of Vermont.

We ask that the policy be stopped and the Marijuana Commission be charged with researching effective reparative and equity provisions that provide meaningful measures to address the historical social and economic impact that marajuana has had on African Americans and the current impact of systemic racism on the cannabis industry.

We stand at the ready to continue to offer additional constructive recommendations to address these challenges such as those previously offered.  We appreciate you promptly getting  this letter to the governor and would be happy to answer any questions you or members of your team might have surrounding this matter.  

Here is an active petition with over 460 signatures on the matter.


Governor Scott,

Please say NO to the taxation and regulation bill, S.54.  This bill has been flawed from start to finish and not only ignores the government’s responsibility to repair harm and ensure equity but also actually is harmful to African Americans of Vermont.  With little or no access to land or capital, Black Vermonters are most severely impacted by this policy.  S.54 also harms small growers by giving medical dispensaries sole access to integrated licenses and a jumpstart on market access. The bill does not consider cannabis cultivation agriculture, excluding most land and infrastructure in agricultural easements and current use, and most farmers from having equitable access to this crop and a market that could support their farm income. Further:

  1. No research was conducted by the Marijuana Commission on the historical adverse impact of marijuana on African Americans or the impact of systemic racism on the cannabis industry (they did provide reports on Taxation and Regulation, Road Safety and Education).
  2. Despite proposals from racial justice and emerging grower advocates there has been no significant language to address the historical impact, industry systemic racism or disadvantage that small farmers suffer in this market.
  3. The House and the Conference Committee ignored numerous requests to provide adequate reparative and equity language.
  4. Symbolic gestures including the passage of a separate expungement bill, mild licensing concessions and Cannabis Control Board appointments do little to address the true harm or provide equitable opportunity.
  5. The fact that the bill calls for the Cannabis Control Board (yet to be created) to provide recommendations to the legislature to address reparative and equity language indicates that they have not done their homework.
  6. Access to the final discussions that concluded the Conference Committee was not even made available to the public resulting in our discovery of the final agreement by way of out-of-state pro-policy lobbyists.  

S.54 fails to address in any significant way the devastating historical social and economic impact of marijuana on African Americans, the current impact of systemic racism on the cannabis industry or the disadvantages of emerging growers!  In short, Black people and small farmers are not made whole and fail to economically benefit from this bill.  Again.  Even now, in what is a national racial reckoning, we’re still doing this.  The passage of this bill exacerbates the economic oppression of Black folks who already have a median wealth of 1/13th that of white people.  This is wrong and we all know that it is wrong. 

It is reprehensible that despite a double pandemic that is exacerbating the impact of systemic racism on Black and Brown bodies that this policy is on your desk. It makes no sense that small farmers would also be disadvantaged by big industry.  Please use this as an opportunity to communicate that placing profit over Black and otherwise economically disadvantaged Vermonters ends here. Please veto this policy to give us the opportunity to ensure that it addresses harm and provides everyone an opportunity to thrive.  Charge the Marijuana Commission to provide the analysis to enable a data-driven approach in shaping just and equitable tax and regulate legislation.


Mark Hughes,
Executive Director,
Justice For All
Vermont Racial Justice Alliance

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