Vermont has officially become the first state in the nation to pass a recreational marijuana legalization bill by way of legislative forces. But the question remains: Will Governor Phil Scott, a man who does not believe legal weed is a “priority” for the state, sign it into law?
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On Wednesday, lawmakers in the Green Mountain State made history by pushing a bill that would legalize the cultivation and possession of small amounts of marijuana. The proposal also opens up the possibility for the creation of a taxed and regulated pot market, similar to what is currently underway in Colorado, further down the line.
The measure, which had already been given a stamp of approval by the Senate, swung through the House of Representatives with a vote of 79-to-66. It is now on its way to the desk of Governor Scott.
Although the governor believes marijuana legalization is “inevitable,” he recently told Vermont Public Radio that he does not feel a move of this magnitude is “a priority for Vermont.”
“I believe that what we should be doing is trying to find ways to protect those on our highways, to deliver a level of impairment that is consistent throughout the northeast, as well as to address the edibles for our kids before we move forward with legalization,” Scott told the news source.
Nevertheless, Scott has not discounted the possibility of moving ahead with the concept of ending marijuana prohibition. He says the plan is to “review” the bill before making a decision whether to grace it with his signature or stamp it with a veto – sending the issue back to square one.
If the measure becomes law, a state cannabis commission would be created to hash out the regulations for a fully legal market. That proposal would then go before the state legislature for consideration.
Marijuana advocates praised the Democratic-controlled state legislature for taking such a bold leap on this common sense policy.
“Vermont lawmakers made history today,” Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “The legislature has taken a crucial step toward ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”
If all goes according to plan, Vermont could become the third state on the east coast (ninth in the nation) to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.
The language of the law would initially give people the freedom to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to two plants at home for personal use.