On May 24, 2017, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott vetoed recreational marijuana legalization. Scott announced his decision during a press conference, citing concerns over health and public safety as his main reasons for vetoing S. 22, the legalization legislation that had been approved by the state legislature.
“I have made it clear since the campaign and throughout this session, I’m not philosophically opposed to ending the prohibition on marijuana, and I recognize there is a clear societal shift in that direction; however, I feel it is crucial that key questions and concerns involving public safety and health are addressed before moving forward. We must get this right,” Scott said.
Although Scott has vetoed recreational marijuana legalization for now, he is returning the bill to the legislature with recommendations, such as enhancing the stakeholder representation on the Marijuana Regulatory Commission, revising provisions regarding possession by minors and sales to minors, as well as penalties for driving under the influence and consuming marijuana in the presence of a minor.
“If they are willing to work with me to address my concerns in a new bill passed during the veto session this summer, there is a path forward on this issue,” Scott said.
With Scott providing a “path forward,” advocates are feeling down, but not out.
“We are disappointed by the governor’s decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor’s offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a press release.
“The governor’s comments make clear that legalization of marijuana in Vermont is only a matter of time — and some small tweaks to the bill,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, in a statement. “I’m very hopeful that lawmakers will make the changes he’s asking for, and that next month the state will become the first in history to end cannabis prohibition by an act of the legislature.”
You can watch Scott’s full press conference below.