[Update; February 25: A day after giving initial approval, Vermont’s Senate has given final approval to Senate Bill 241. The vote was 17 to 12; it’s been sent to the House of Representatives for conideration.]
Vermont’s full Senate today gave initial approval to a bill that would legalize recreational cannabis for everyone 21 and older; the vote was 16 to 13. The Senate will need to vote one more time – expected to occur later this week – before it goes to the House of Representatives. Governor Peter Schumlin, a supporter of the measure, applauded the Senate’s decision.
“Vermonters have been yearning for leadership on this issue, and the Senate is really stepping up and demonstrating it,” said Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The senators did not arrive at this vote lightly. They engaged in an exceptionally deliberative process, and like most of their constituents, they have arrived at the conclusion that it’s time to end prohibition and regulate marijuana.”
Senate Bill 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis.The measure would establish a system of licensed cultivation centers, which would supply cannabis to retail outlets. Anyone 21 and older, resident or not, would be legally allowed to purchase cannabis from these outlets.
The bill would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible cannabis products and home cultivation.
On Monday, Vermont Public Radio released the results of a poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute that found 55% of Vermonters support passing a law to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Only 32% said they are opposed.