Vermont House votes to legalize marijuana

Vermont House votes to legalize marijuana
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The Vermont House passed a bill Thursday night to legalize recreational possession of marijuana just hours after Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill’s 12:30 Report — Kavanaugh accuser willing to testify | Kavanaugh denies allegations, says he’s willing to testify | 50 days from the midterms Ken Starr backs Mueller, says president 'must be held accountable' The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE rescinded a Department of Justice policy on legal marijuana.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.

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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The vote came hours after Sessions rescinded an Obama-era policy that ordered U.S. attorneys in states where marijuana has been legalized to deprioritize prosecution of marijuana-related cases.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 GardnerSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Colorado governor sets up federal PAC before potential 2020 campaign Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law 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 TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president 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.”