Ketzirah Lesser & Art Drauglis

Vermont House Kills Marijuana Legalization, Expanded Decriminalization Bills

Vermont lawmakers struck down several proposals aimed at reforming marijuana laws in the state, according to a report.

The House of Representatives voted 121-28 against legalizing recreational cannabis use, despite both Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) and Attorney General William Sorrell supporting the measure. The proposal was passed by the Senate in a 16-13 preliminary vote last February. The law would have taxed and regulated marijuana sales for adults aged 21 and older.

A separate proposal that would have decriminalized cultivation of up to two cannabis plants was also defeated in the House, 70-77. The measure would have expanded the state’s standing decriminalization laws, under which adult possession of up to one ounce is a civil violation and carries a fine up to $500.

“The War on Drugs policy of marijuana prohibition has failed. I want to thank those House members who recognize that and worked to move this issue forward,” Shumlin said in a statement following the vote. “It is incredibly disappointing, however, that a majority of the House has shown a remarkable disregard for the sentiment of most Vermonters who understand that we must pursue a smarter policy when it comes to marijuana in this state.”

In another close vote – 77-68 – the House passed provisions forming a Marijuana Advisory Commission which will make recommendations to the legislature regarding marijuana legalization. The Commission will “provide guidance…on issues relating to the national trend toward reclassifying marijuana at the state level, and the emergence of a regulated adult-use commercial market for marijuana within Vermont,” according to the bill text. The first meeting of the Commission will occur on or before July 1 with a final report due Dec. 15.

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