Vermont Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill
Legislation to legalize marijuana in Vermont has been approved by the state’s House of Representatives.
A bill already approved by the Vermont Senate that would make marijuana legal for adults was passed today by the Vermont House of Representatives with some minor amendments. It will now go to the Senate for a final concurrence vote before being transmitted to Governor Phil Scott. In December, Governor Scott indicated that he intends to sign H. 511 into law.
If H. 511 is signed into law, it would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and remove penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants, beginning in July. Meanwhile, a governor-appointed task force will issue a final report on how the state should tax and regulate marijuana sales and commercial cultivation by December 15, 2018.
“Vermont is poised to make history by becoming the first state to legalize marijuana cultivation and possession legislatively, rather than by ballot initiative. We applaud lawmakers for heeding the calls of their constituents and taking this important step toward treating marijuana more like alcohol,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Fifty-seven percent of Vermont voters support allowing adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana, according to a statewide survey of 755 registered voters conducted in March by Public Policy Polling. Only 39% are opposed. Nationwide support is similarly strong. An October 2017 Gallup poll found 64% of Americans support making marijuana legal.
When the bill is signed, Vermont will become the ninth state to make marijuana legal for adults, and the first to do so through its legislature (all others were passed through a citizen’s initiative.