Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) said during a gubernatorial debate on Tuesday that “a lot of groups” – including racial equity groups – are asking him to veto the bill legalizing cannabis sales in the state, according to a Marijuana Moment report.
Last month a coalition of Vermont advocacy organizations – NOFA-VT, Rural Vermont, Trace, and Vermont Growers Association – released statements opposing the measure. Activists cite provisions of the bill such as new fingerprint requirements for medical cannabis caregivers and the nation’s first THC cap on cannabis flower and concentrates as primary issues.
“We come together to say ‘no’ to S.54 in order to ensure that the people most hurt by this history of policy and policing are the ones who will most greatly benefit from the legalization of cannabis in Vermont, and who will determine what that means,” the groups said.
The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance also came out against the measure, calling it in a letter to Scott “flawed from start to finish.”
“In terms of the pot bill, I haven’t made up my mind about that. I have received a lot of groups – racial equity groups – that are asking me to veto it. I was leaning towards letting it go, but I’m really questioning that at this point. I want to hear and listen from them.” – Scott during the debate via Marijuana Moment
His opponent, progressive Democrat David Zuckerman said during the debate that “there are many provisions in the bill that do address support for minority- and women-owned businesses. And there’s definitely more work to do.”
“We know in the next administration, we’ll have to work to improve on that bill,” he said. “But to delay it for another year is economic opportunity delayed, it is also criminal justice reform delayed, and we need to be moving forward and do more in the future.”
The measure garnered support from other groups, including the Marijuana Policy Project. MPP Executive Director Steve Hawkins, who is Black, said that if the legalization movement “insisted on every measure being perfect, Vermonters might still be criminals for possessing cannabis – medical or otherwise.”
“S.54 and S.234 represent incredible progress for consumer safety, Vermont’s economy, and racial and social justice,” he said in an op-ed published last week. “They deserve Vermonters’ support and Scott’s signature.”
The measure passed the Senate with a veto-proof margin but did not meet that threshold in the House.