from the Cheech-and-Chong-would-be-proud dept.
The Burlington Free Press, via USA Today, reports that Vermont's legislature has approved a bill to legalise cannabis for recreational use. The bill has not been signed by the state's governor, Republican Phil Scott. According to the article
Vermont's bill, which would legalize small amounts of marijuana possession in 2018 and anticipate the possibility of a taxed and regulated legal marijuana market, was approved in the Vermont House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 79-66. The state Senate already passed the bill, so it will go directly to GOP Gov. Phil Scott.
Eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana following a voter referendum, but no state yet has legalized marijuana solely through the legislative process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legalization advocates said bills were pending in other state legislatures.
"I think it reflects that Vermont elected officials are more in touch with our constituents than a lot of elected officials in other states," said Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, a member of the Vermont Progressive Party who has worked on marijuana issues for the majority of his political career. "I think the public is ahead of us, but elected officials tend to be cautious when it comes to change."
Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, said on Wednesday he was vetoing a bill to legalize marijuana, and sending it back to the legislature for changes. "We must get this right," Scott said in prepared remarks at a press conference today. "I think we need to move a little bit slower."
Though he said he views the issue "through a libertarian lens," Scott vetoed the bill due to concerns about detecting and penalizing impaired drivers, protecting children, and the role and makeup of a Marijuana Regulatory Commission. The governor said he is "not philosophically opposed" to legalization, "and I recognize there is a clear societal shift in that direction." He said he'll send recommended changes to the the Democratic-majority legislature, and that if they address his concerns, "there is a path forward on this issue."