Vermont on Fast Track to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Vermont on Fast Track to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Flickr / Harshil Shah / CC BY-ND 2.0

Vermont legislators are on the fast track to legalize recreational marijuana. On Jan. 4, 2018, the state House Judiciary Committee voted to approve H. 511, a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

Under the proposed measure, persons 21 years or older would be able to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to two mature and four immature marijuana plants. If approved, the measure would take effect as early as July of this year.

In 2017, both the Vermont House and Senate approved a similar, bill but legislative efforts were undone when Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the measure. Although Scott was not opposed to legalization, the governor has several concerns that he wanted addressed, including better defined penalties for those that provide marijuana to minors and those that drive while under the influence.

A compromise was almost reached last year during a veto session, but legislators simply ran out of time. With a new legislative session in full swing, lawmakers have placed the bill on the fast track to passage. Speaking with Vermont Public Radio, Rep. Maxine Grad, chairwoman of the House Committee on Judiciary, said that she is eager to pass the bill as soon as possible.

“We’ve done this a number of times,” Grad said. “We ran out of time during the veto session … and I would like to vote on it, get it to the governor’s desk and work on the many other important issues that we have.”

The House is set to vote on the measure today, Jan. 4. If approved, which most outside observers expect to happen, the Senate could take up the measure as soon as the following week, setting the stage for the governor to sign the measure by the end of the month.

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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