Vermont Senate Votes to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Vermont Senate Votes to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Flickr / J. Stephen Conn / CC BY-NC 2.0

Recreational marijuana is coming to the state of Vermont. On Jan. 10, 2017, the Vermont Senate voted to approve H. 511, a bill that will legalize recreational marijuana possession for adults 21 and older, as well as home growing of two mature plants and four immature plants.

Last year, Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a similar measure passed by the state legislature, citing safety concerns such as weak penalties for those caught trying to provide marijuana to minors. Lawmakers crafted a compromise bill; however House Republicans used procedural tactics to block a vote on the measure.

But with a new legislative session in gear and full support from the governor, H. 511 has been on the fast track, first breezing through the House and now the Senate. The bill will head to the governor’s desk for final approval.

Speaking with Vermont Public Radio, Scott called the bill a “libertarian approach” and promised to sign off on the bill.

“I made that commitment,” Scott said. “That was something that I was comfortable doing.”

Once Scott signs the measure, Vermont will become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through a state legislature.

While the bill does not legalize retail sales of recreational marijuana, Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman is optimistic that the passage of H. 511 will pave the way for a system of retail taxation and regulation.

“I am happy to see the legislature is catching-up with Vermonters on this issue,” Zuckerman said in a press release. “I look forward to continuing to bring Vermonters into the process as we move toward complete reform with a tax and regulate system.”

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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