Vermont has become the first state to legalize cannabis via the legislature for the second time today in a voice vote, rather than a debate and roll call vote. The approval will allow adults 21-and-older to possess up to 1 ounce of flower, 5 grams of concentrate, and grow up to two mature plants beginning on July 1.
The landmark legislation still needs to be signed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott – who famously vetoed similar legislation last May citing drugged driving and public safety concerns. The House passed the measure 81-63 last Thursday.
Tax-and-regulate not included. The governor has convened a commission on the issue which forced the House to amend the bill to remove same-as provisions. Another amendment included in the bill requires would-be cultivators to obtain written permission from the landowner, or landlord, before growing cannabis for personal use.
A recent Public Policy Polling survey found 57-39 percent support for allowing adult use and possession; support dropped to 54-40 percent for a taxed-and-regulated regime.
Eli Harrington, co-founder of Heady Vermont, called the passage an important first step for advocates, patients, and the burgeoning cannabis and hemp industries in the state.
“We’ve taken the most important step of recognizing that in Vermont we believe adults have the right to responsibly consume and cultivate cannabis. Through this process the legislature has spent a lot of time educating themselves and deserve credit for listening to their constituents and learning about and issue many probably didn’t anticipate being so significant. This is the first step in a thousand-mile journey, and it is an important one, but this is the beginning not the end of cannabis reform in Vermont including focusing on updating out medical program.” – Harrington, to Ganjapreneur
Matt Simon, Marijuana Policy Project’s New England political director, said, “Vermonters should be proud” of their legislators.
“This will be an important milestone for the legalization movement. When Gov. Scott signs this legislation, Vermont will become the first state in the country to end marijuana prohibition through legislative action. MPP is proud to have helped lead the Vermont effort, just as we led the legalization ballot initiative campaigns in Maine and Massachusetts in 2016. In the past two years, we’ve seen incredible progress on marijuana policy across New England. Now that yet another state has rejected marijuana prohibition, there is even more pressure for Congress to take action to prevent any federal interference from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It’s time for the federal government to respect the authority of states to determine their own marijuana policies.” – Matthew Schweich, MPP interim executive director, in a statement
Scott has indicated he would sign the bill if it made it to his desk this session, and once signed, Vermont will be the ninth state to legalize cannabis for adults, along with Washington, D.C. Vermont decriminalized cannabis possession in 2013.