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 SessionsMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war MORE rescinded a Department of Justice policy on legal marijuana.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The vote came hours after Sessions rescinded an Obama-era policy that ordered U.S. attorneys in states where marijuana has been legalized to deprioritize prosecution of marijuana-related cases.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 GardnerBipartisan Senators reintroduce legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia Dems seeking path to Senate majority zero-in on Sun Belt Lawmakers eager for 5G breakthrough 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 TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview 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.”