Vermont House votes to legalize marijuana

Vermont House votes to legalize marijuana
© Getty Images

The Vermont House passed a bill Thursday night to legalize recreational possession of marijuana just hours after Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants DOJ wades into archdiocese fight for ads on DC buses Overnight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector MORE rescinded a Department of Justice policy on legal marijuana.

Lawmakers voted 81-63 in favor of the bill, which would allow adults over the age of 21 to grow and possess small amounts of legal marijuana beginning in July. The State Senate still needs to approve the measure, but Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) has signaled that he will sign the bill. He vetoed a similar measure last year. 

House members rejected an effort led by Republicans to delay voting on the bill amid reports that Sessions would rescind a Justice Department policy on states legalizing marijuana, according to the Burlington Free Press.

ADVERTISEMENT
The Marijuana Policy Project, the largest marijuana policy reform group in the U.S., praised the vote in a statement, calling it an “important step.”

“Vermont is poised to make history by becoming the first state to legalize marijuana cultivation and possession legislatively, rather than by ballot initiative,” Matt Simon, New England policy director for the group, said. “We applaud lawmakers for heeding the calls of their constituents and taking this important step toward treating marijuana more like alcohol.”

Vermont will become the ninth state to make recreational marijuana legal for adults upon the bill’s signing, and the first state to legalize marijuana via its state legislature.

The vote came hours after Sessions rescinded an Obama-era policy that ordered U.S. attorneys in states where marijuana has been legalized to deprioritize prosecution of marijuana-related cases.

Sessions was slammed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle following the announcement.

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDurbin: Senators to release immigration bill Wednesday GOP senators eager for Romney to join them Gardner: Bipartisan DACA solution possible despite Trump's 's---hole countries' comment MORE (R-Colo.) took to the Senate floor to assert that Sessions had told him before his confirmation as attorney general that he didn’t plan to try to reverse his state’s policies legalizing marijuana.

"I would like to know from the attorney general what has changed,” Gardner said. “What has changed the president's mind? Why is Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE thinking differently than what he promised the people of Colorado?”

Gardner, who leads the Senate GOP campaign arm, threatened to block all Justice Department nominees until Sessions “lives up to the commitment that he made to me.”