Vermont senate passes bill to legalize cannabis use in legislative first

Erika Holt
January 10, 2018

The measure legalizes the possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana and two mature and four immature marijuana plants by people 21 or older. "When Gov. Scott signs this legislation, Vermont will become the first state in the country to end marijuana prohibition through legislative action", said Matthew Schweich, interim executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.

"We have to come up with a way to determine impairment on our highways, regardless of what the substance is", Scott says.

Vermont's senate on Wednesday passed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis use, which would make the state the first in the nation to do so through the legislative process rather than a ballot initiative. Lawmakers subsequently drafted a revised version addressing the governor's concerns, and that bill passed the state House last week by a vote of 81 to 63.

One in five Americans reside in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal under state statute, and the majority of citizens reside someplace where the medical use of cannabis is legally authorized.

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Neighboring Massachusetts, nearby ME and six other states have legalized cannabis use as a result of voter initiatives.

Scott previously vetoed a recreational marijuana bill last May, declaring that he wasn't opposed to recreational marijuana but wanted to form a committee to study the issue's implementation in Vermont.

To date, eight states - including California, Colorado and Nevada - have legalized recreational marijuana, but have done so through voter-approved ballot measures. As is evidenced by Vermont lawmakers' actions, it is clear that the Trump administration is not going to be able to cease this momentum in favor of the enactment of rational marijuana policies. Sanctioned to smoke, carry, or grow under the new legislation, residents will find the commercial cultivation or distribution of marijuana will remain a crime in the state.

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