Vermont Senate passes recreational marijuana bill, governor expected to sign
Vermont’s state Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults over the age of 21, removing the last major roadblock on the drug’s path to legalization in the state.
Gov. Phil Scott (R) is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk. Vermont’s Senate had previously passed a version of the bill last summer, but today’s vote was required to approve the state House of Representatives’s decision to remove a study commission from the bill.
The bill removes the civil penalty and fine for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, and allows limited growing of marijuana plants.
Scott 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. That study committee held its first meeting in November, and was set to issue its next report on Jan. 15.
Republicans in the state attempted a last-ditch effort to delay the bill until the report is released, but were unsuccessful, according to the Burlington Free Press.
Legal marijuana advocates called Vermont’s bill an important milestone for their movement in a statement Wednesday celebrating the bill’s passage.
“This will be an important milestone for the legalization movement. When Gov. Scott signs this legislation, Vermont will become the first state in the country to end marijuana prohibition through legislative action,” Marijuana Policy Project interim director Matthew Schweich said.
“Now that yet another state has rejected marijuana prohibition, there is even more pressure for Congress to take action to prevent any federal interference from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It’s time for the federal government to respect the authority of states to determine their own marijuana policies,” he added.
The Trump administration, led by Sessions, has made a number of moves against recreational marijuana in recent months. Just last week, the Justice Department announced it would no longer deprioritize marijuana cases in states where the drug is legal. The policy, put in place under the Obama administration, allowed the legal marijuana industry to flourish.
Sessions’s decision was met with immediate pushback from both Democrats and Republicans, who accused the Trump administration of violating campaign promises to leave marijuana policy up to the states.
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