The Vermont Senate approved S. 188 in a voice vote.

The bill which will govern how Vermont’s adult use cannabis industry operates, with a preserved 60% THC cap on solid concentrates, awaits Governor Phil Scott’s signature following approval from the State Senate on May 11.

The potency cap was first introduced in a 2020 bill that set the stage for regulating an adult use market in Vermont. That bill passed the House and Senate before the governor allowed it to be enacted without a signature and without veto.

In declining to veto, Scott allowed Vermont’s legislature to pass a 2020 bill establishing a regulated adult use market in the state. That law also set THC potency caps at 30% for flower and 60% for concentrates.

Those caps will likely remain in place when S. 188 goes into effect with or without the governor’s signature.

The original version of S. 188 removed the THC potency cap on concentrates, but the cap was re-inserted by the state House during a May 6 hearing approving an amendment to the bill, before approving the bill itself.

Passage of the bill was crucial in that it stipulated the rules that are governing the cannabis licensing process just as Vermont’s adult use market is emerging.

The state’s Cannabis Control Board approved the state’s first adult use cultivation licenses on May 16 during the Board’s weekly meeting. The license went to Rutland Craft Cannabis in Brandon, Vermont.

State Rep. John Gannon pushed the House to reinsert the THC cap in the bill, requiring it to be returned to the Senate for approval of the House’s changes.

After the House inserted the potency cap into the bill, the Senate was not left with enough time to push back, according to Sen. Dick Sears, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee which begrudgingly approved of the House’s amendment.

While approving the bill, Sears also called upon the CCB to conduct a study in the coming months to determine what impact THC caps may or may not have had on the state’s illicit market.

“If we were to accept this I would like to see some investigation by the Cannabis Control Board of the impact of this decision on the black market,” said Sears. “At the end of the session they held the damn thing for over a week and a half and then come up with this, and there isn’t much time to call for a conference committee so I’m really frustrated by the proposal from Representative Gannon in the House, but I think we should at least have information next year on what’s the impact of this decision.”

The new version of the bill excluded wholesale operations from the concentration potency cap, according to Sen. Jeanette White.

“If you had a cultivator that then was creating a concentrate that they would then sell to a product manufacturer. That product manufacturer could use that in developing edibles or things like that, however there would be no sales to the public,” she said.

The CCB was swayed to oppose THC caps and announced as much in December, and board Chair James Pepper even testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of dropping the caps.

“This really is a gift to the illicit market, leaving this cap in place,” he said, during the May 6 hearing. “You know it gives the illicit market a monopoly on supplying the demand for these products.”

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Zack cut his journalistic teeth covering high school sports in the south before spending a decade covering local government, politics and the courts in the Boston, Massachusetts area. He's previously written...