In a landmark move, the Vermont Senate passes bill to legalize recreational marijuana. While such a definitive action is significant on its own, there is another reason why this news from Vermont is so momentous. The bill to legalize cannabis was not done by a ballot measure. The bill was passed entirely through the state legislature.
The Green Mountain State Gets Greener
A few months ago, cannabis industry experts speculated on the topic of state legalization. Back then, the question on everyone’s mind was “which state will be next to legalize marijuana?” Among the predictions was the state of Vermont. Since Vermont already had a medical marijuana program in place, the prediction was not exactly far-fetched. Last May, the state’s governor, Phil Scott, vetoed a bill that would legalize the herb. But even though he nixed the bill, the possibility to bring recreational pot to the state was far from over. Governor Scott just wanted to iron out every detail before moving forward with the bill.
While experts named Vermont in their predictions for the next few states to take the plunge and legalize pot, there was no clear timeline for when this would happen.
But now, by way of a legislative vote, the Vermont Senate passes bill to legalize recreational marijuana. And Governor Phil Scott is likely to sign this bill into law. The bill is typical of other states’ cannabis legalization measures. Individuals over the age of 21 will be permitted to possess up to one ounce of weed and grow two plants at a time. Although, as of yet, there are no clear plans for cannabis retail.
While the initial regulations in Vermont are similar to those of other states with legalized cannabis, the way in which the bill was passed is decidedly dissimilar. Vermont didn’t just pass a bill to bring in recreational weed. They passed the bill through a legislative vote rather than through a public ballot.
Final Hit: Vermont Senate Passes Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana
The manner in which Vermont passed this bill may not seem like a big deal. But it is. A legislative vote means that the state’s lawmakers publicly declared themselves to be pro-legalization. There was no hiding their own opinions behind the smokescreen of a public referendum. Politicians taking a definitive stance on an issue always carries some measure of risk. But taking a stance on a controversial issue like marijuana legalization, even in a state like Vermont? That takes moxy.
Especially since only a week ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, which prevented federal law enforcement from interfering with states with legal cannabis. Unsurprisingly, this action has garnered a great deal of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. And there are plenty of lawmakers who already seem to be gearing up for a fight.
So does the news that the Vermont Senate passes bill to legalize recreational marijuana indicate that other states will follow suit sooner rather than later? Time will tell. We’ll keep you posted.