Vermont’s full Senate approved a bill today that would legalize marijuana, and addresses concerns Governor Phil Scott expressed when he vetoed a similar bill in May.
Legislation that would make marijuana legal for those 21 and older in Vermont was approved by the Senate on Wednesday, the first day of a two-day veto session. House Bill 511 reflects a compromise between legislative leaders and Governor Scott, who vetoed a similar bill in late May. It will now go the House, where passage by a three-quarters vote will put it to the desk of Governor Scott who plans to sign it into law.
The law approved by the Senate would make it legal for those 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce of cannabis beginning July 2018. It would also be legal to grow up to two mature, nd four immature cannabis plants. In addition, a study commission would be created to develop legislation to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, the amended bill “would extend the time allotted by S. 22 for the commission to submit its report, add additional agency directors and the defender general to the commission, and increase penalties for dispensing marijuana to minors or exposing them to marijuana smoke in cars.”
“Vermont is poised to make history by becoming the first state in which the legislature and governor end the disastrous policy of marijuana prohibition. Just over a year from now, adults will have the same freedoms to grow and possess cannabis that our neighbors in Maine and Massachusetts enjoy,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The question is no longer ‘if’ Vermont will stop penalizing adult cannabis consumers, but ‘when’.”
Simon continued; “There is no good reason for the House to delay passage of this modest and sensible legislation.. Now that Gov. Scott has agreed with the House and Senate that marijuana should be legal for adult use, House Republicans should follow the governor’s lead and vote to advance this compromise. Failing to waive the rules will only mean the marijuana regulatory commission has less time to do its important work.”
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.