Vermont Becomes Latest New England State To Stall On Marijuana

Vermont has legalized medical marijuana and was working towards legalizing adult use marijuana, but Governor Phil Scott just said no. The governor vetoed a bill that had been passed by the legislation. While the anti-marijuana forces are cheering, the pro-legalization forces are saying it's merely a tap on the brakes.

Governor Scott said he would be willing to sign a revised version into law and the legislature is expected to meet next month to vote on possible veto overrides, including the state budget. Fifty-seven percent of Vermonters approved of the legislation, according to a statewide survey, making it a popular piece of legislation.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, "S. 22 would have eliminated the penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and home cultivation of up to two mature marijuana plants and four immature plants by adults 21 and older beginning in July 2018. It also would have created a study commission to develop legislation to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use." It would be the first time a state legislature has ever passed a bill to make marijuana legal for adults.

"While the news today is disappointing, it likely just amounts to a short delay. 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, founder and chairman of the Marijuana Majority. "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."

Smart Approaches to Marijuana or SAM had a different take on the governor's move. SAM President Kevin Sabet said in a statement, "We commend Governor Scott for vetoing S22 and backing parents, teachers, doctors and law enforcement across Vermont who are working each day to make our communities healthier and safer. Vermont already decriminalized marijuana years ago -- this bill was designed to be a gateway for the full-scale commercialization of another drug in Vermont." He added, "But our work is not over. There will be a special session next month to discuss a path forward. We will be working very closely with our allies to make sure any piece of legislation does not allow Big Marijuana to come to Vermont."

Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project said, "Most Vermonters want to end marijuana prohibition, and it is critical that the legislature responds by passing a revised legalization bill this summer. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and there is no good reason to continue treating responsible adult consumers like criminals." Simon said the initial passage of S.22 demonstrated that lawmakers were ready to move forward and address the Governor's concerns and pass a revised bill this summer.

As or February 2017, Vermont had 3,814 registered patients for its medical marijuana program.