Vermont Gov. Phil Scott rejected legislation that would have legalized the adult recreational use of cannabis. The Republican governor, who has long opposed to cannabis regulation, said he is open to working with lawmakers over the summer on a compromise bill. But for now, legalization in the state is dead.
Senate Bill 22 would have amended state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis would have no longer been subject to penalty. It also would have established a state commission to make recommendations to the legislature regarding how best to regulate the adult use marijuana market.
If Scott signed the bill, Vermont would have become the eighth state (plus the District of Columbia) to legalize recreational marijuana. It would have been the first state to legalize cannabis by vote of a state legislative body, instead of by voter referendum.
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“We must get this right,” Scott said. “I think we need to move a little bit slower.”
“It is disappointing that Gov. Scott would not only defy the will of of state legislators, but also the will of the majority of Vermont voters who support ending criminal penalties for those adults who consume cannabis responsibly,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Minor marijuana possession offenders should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it. Rather than looking to the future, Gov. Scott seems intent on repeating the failures of the past.”
This is the second year in a row an attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in Vermont has failed. In 2016, the Senate and House of Representatives offered separate bills, but were unsuccessful in reaching compromise legislation.