Vermont Legalizes Cannabis – Vermont becomes the first state to legalize marijuana through legislation and is the ninth state overall to enact the law after California made it official at the beginning of January.
Republican Governor Phil Scott on Monday signed into law House Bill 511, which legalizes the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and removes penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants, for adults 21 and older. This new law will go into effect in July and interestingly, the legislation says nothing about creating a state market for recreational weed.
“I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children,” Governor Scott wrote in a press release.
Gov. Phil Scott has privately signed Vermont’s recreational marijuana bill into law “with mixed emotions.”
The law’s passage did not appear to deter Vermont lawmakers as the Trump administration, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, rescinded Obama-era policies that allowed states to move forward with state-level legalization with minimal federal interference, even as pot remained illegal at the federal level. Neighboring states such as Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire and possibly New York are expected to follow suit of Vermont Legalizes Cannabis in the coming year.
While the bill excludes a commercial program when legalization occurs on July 1, Governor Scott has created a commission through executive order to research how a tax-and-regulate system would play out. The tax money would go to services like highway safety education and prevention and treatment for drug addiction.
Vermont is the first state where the law was approved by the legislature. The other states and Washington authorized their laws through a vote of residents. Vermont has no legal mechanism that allows for a citizen referendum.