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In Spite of Sessions, Vermont Poised to be 9th State to Legalize Marijuana

In Spite of Sessions, Vermont Poised to be 9th State to Legalize Marijuana

Dina Al-Shibeeb
Republican Gov. of Vermont, Phill Scott, said he backed a bill legalizing marijuana in his state. (File image via Springfieldvt.blogs.pot.ca)

A bill, allowing recreational use of marijuana, is now at Vermont’s Senate after its approval by the House on Thursday. If passed, it will make Vermont the ninth U.S. state to legalize recreational cannabis.

The Vermont House approved the bill on Thursday, the same day that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era law, which allowed states to approve recreational use of marijuana without federal intervention. 

Federally, marijuana is considered an illegal drug. But eight U.S. states so far legally allow cannabis use. Colorado was one of the first when it allowed the recreational use of marijuana in 2014.

The House voted 81 to 63 to legalize possession of marijuana for recreational use, according to the local website Seven Days.

If the bill becomes a law, then possession of up to an ounce of weed will be legal in Vermont for those in the legal age of 21 and older, starting July.

The legislation also allows possession of four immature and two mature pot plants, the local Seven Days added.

The House had approved an earlier version of the legislation last year, but the bill passed to the Senate had some changes. Seven Days, also said that, 

“there was a “flurry of last-minute amendments and procedural tactics had legalization proponents rooting against establishment of a retail pot market and opponents advocating for one.”

medical - In Spite of Sessions, Vermont Poised to be 9th State to Legalize Marijuana
California is the largest state in the U.S. where marijuana is legal.(Image via Reuters)

Republican Support

Gov. Phil Scott could receive the bill within weeks if the Senate approves it without changes. Scott, a Republican, had vetoed a similar version last year but said he would sign it this time.

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In August, Scott announced the creation of a commission to study adult use marijuana legalization, showing he was still interested in eventually signing the bill.

“After years of starts and stops, Governor Scott and the legislature are finally on the same page with respect to cannabis policy reform, and it now seems clear that Vermont will legalize possession and personal cultivation within weeks,”

Dave Silberman, a Middlebury attorney and cannabis policy reform advocate, told Forbes in an interview in December.

“This is a testament to the power of public pressure, after thousands of Vermonters called and wrote the governor in opposition to his veto of a nearly identical legalization bill just last May,” he said. “[This] shows that, when it comes to drug policy reform, the more we speak, the more we win.”

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