Maxine Grad

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Scott responds to legal pot compromise, expresses optimism

MONTPELIER — The Scott administration has accepted most of the changes lawmakers have suggested to a marijuana legalization bill vetoed by the governor, but is seeking some additional amendments to gain his support ahead of next week’s veto session. Kendal Smith, Gov. Phil Scott’s director of policy development and legislative affairs, sent a response late Wednesday to the changes proposed last week by Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, and Rep. Maxine Grad, D-Moretown. “I think it’s workable,” Sears told the Vermont Press Bureau. “The response has generally been somewhat positive. A little confusion about some of the points he makes and trying to make sure we get it all right.”

“I don’t think that we’re so far apart that we can’t reach some kind of agreement,” Sears added. Continue Reading →

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key lawmakers craft legal pot compromise

MONTPELIER — Key lawmakers have sent a proposal to Gov. Phil Scott that makes changes to a marijuana legalization bill he vetoed last month ahead of next week’s veto session. Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said language he crafted with House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Maxine Grad was sent to the governor’s office Thursday. The two lawmakers are awaiting feedback from the governor on their plan to address his concerns with S.22, which was vetoed by Scott on May 24. “I’ve been working with several other senators and met last week … with Maxine Grad and we agreed on a new proposal. We sent copies of the proposal to the governor. Continue Reading →

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House Judiciary sends pot bill to the floor

MONTPELIER — The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday in favor of a bill to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, sending the measure to the full chamber after Democratic leaders secured enough votes to ensure it passes. The Judiciary Committee voted 8 to 3 in favor of H.170, which would make it legal in Vermont to possess 1 ounce or less of marijuana, up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. It is expected to hit the House floor next week. The bill mirrors the policy already in place in Washington, D.C. But it does not create a legal, regulated market like the one that exists in Colorado and that was passed by the Senate last year. Rep. Maxine Grad, D-Moretown, the Judiciary Committee chairwoman, said she views the bill as addressing a criminal justice issue that continues to exist in Vermont. Continue Reading →

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Pot bill seen as losing steam

MONTPELIER — Legislation in the House Judiciary Committee to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana has hit a snag as House leaders look to navigate differing views and rally support in the chamber. The Judiciary Committee was expected to vote H.170 out of committee earlier this week. The bill seeks to legalize the possession of up to 1 ounce of dry marijuana and two plants. It would largely follow the policy already in place in Washington, D.C.

The politics behind legalization are tough to navigate, however. The House legalization bill is a second bite of the apple in as many years. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers unfazed by White House comments on marijuana

MONTPELIER — A White House official warned last week of a possible crackdown on federal marijuana policy but officials in Vermont say the discussion about whether to legalize the drug here will continue. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded to questions at the White House’s daily briefing last Thursday with vague warnings about potential enforcement of the federal government’s policy. “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it,” he told reporters. Former Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration’s policy was to largely look the other way as states moved forward with state-level legalization. But Republican President Donald Trump may change all of that, putting states like Colorado, where there is a large, regulated marijuana retail market, in the Trump administration’s bullseye. Continue Reading →

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Watch: Capital Beat with Reps. Grad and Burditt and Sen. Sears

Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami speaks with Reps. Maxine Grad and Thomas Burditt and Sen. Dick Sears about marijuana legalization and expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program. Capital beat airs on Vermont PBS Plus Monday nights at 8:30 p.m. Continue Reading →

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House lawmakers seek legal marijuana, lesser penalties for possession of other drugs

MONTPELIER — Members of the House Judiciary Committee have introduced bills to legalize the possession of 2 ounces or less or marijuana, and reduce the penalties for possessing other drugs like cocaine and heroin in small amounts. The bills were introduced by Chairwoman Maxine Grad, D-Moretown, Rep. Chip Conquest, D-Wells River and Rep. Thomas Burditt, R-West Rutland. The marijuana bill, H.170, would remove all criminal and civil penalties for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana, two or fewer mature marijuana plants and seven or fewer immature plants. The legislation does not create a legal, regulated market in the state, however. The Senate passed legislation last year to do that, but it failed spectacularly in the House. Continue Reading →

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House Judiciary passes stripped down pot bill

MONTPELIER — The House Judiciary Committee scaled back a marijuana bill even further Friday in order to squeak it through the committee and keep the bill alive, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the Senate over legalization. By a 6 to 5 vote, the House passed a revamped S.241, which came from the Senate approving legalization for possessing up to one ounce of marijuana. But support for the Senate version never materialized in the House committee. A first attempt to pass the bill Friday that sought to decriminalize the possession of up to two marijuana plants failed on a 5 to 6 vote. After stripping out the expanded decriminalization of the drug, the committee turned Rep. Bill Frank, D-Underhill, who helped it advance on the second vote. Continue Reading →

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House pot bill would keep it illegal, decriminalize cultivation

MONTPELIER — House lawmakers are considering an alternative marijuana bill that would not go as far as legalization, but would decriminalize small-scale cultivation. Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee took up an alternative to S.241 — the legalization bill that cleared the Senate in February — that would keep marijuana illegal, but would decriminalize the cultivation of as many as two plants. The alternative bill was put forward by committee Chairwoman Maxine Grad, D-Moretown, who noted the lack of support in her committee for full legalization. “I know it will not go as far as some people will go, but it goes further than other people would like to go,” Grad said. “I don’t expect people to jump on board or change their minds, but this is something that reflects the testimony we have heard.”

During an evening hearing held last week by the committee, many members of the public urged lawmakers to allow personal cultivation. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin signs new law aimed at sex offenders

MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law on Wednesday legislation that enhances reporting requirements for sex offenders when they are released from prison. The new law, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Rep. Maxine Grad, D-Moretown, requires sex offenders to report to the Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Registry before they are released from prison. Offenders previously had up to three days after their release to report information about their intended residence. The Department of Corrections could not compel an offender to provide such information before release. The law also requires sex offenders to report to the Sex Offender Registry within 24 hours of being released from probation, parole, furlough or a supervised community sentence. Continue Reading →

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