A bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana on Wednesday cleared the last hurdle in the Vermont Legislature. Gov. Phil Scott has indicated that he'll sign it into law, which would make Vermont the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through legislation rather than by voter initiative. In an interview with the Burlington Free Press, he said, "I'm not philosophically opposed to it", adding that he wanted any legal marijuana system to address highway safety and protecting children from edible marijuana products.
House Bill 511 eliminates existing civil penalties specific to the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, and also removes criminal penalties with regard to the private cultivation of six marijuana plants (two mature and up to four immature). The retail sales haven't been decided yet, and a special commission is created to analyze and determine to best possible strategy for regulation and taxing.
GOP Sen. Randy Brock of Franklin, VT - who was recently appointed to fill a vacancy - said he voted against the bill after hearing opposition from medical professionals, law enforcement officials, and educators. "Vermont, in particular, doesn't care very much what the attorney general thinks", he said.
Almost eight months after vetoing a similar proposal over safety concerns, 's signature is slated to make Vermont the ninth state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana, albeit the first to rely on its elected lawmakers rather than the voting public.
Matt Simon, New England political director for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, disagreed.