On Wednesday, Vermont Governor Phil Scott announced his plans to veto a marijuana bill which would have made Vermont the ninth state with recreational cannabis. Today he followed through with the veto, sending the legislation back. So Vermonters won’t be seeing recreational cannabis as soon as they hoped.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott Explains Why
Republican Gov. Phil Scott has claimed he isn’t completely against the legalization of marijuana. However, he says he wants to do it the right way.
“We must get this right,” Scott said. “I think we need to move a little bit slower.”
The bill would have only legalized small amounts of marijuana for anyone over the age of 21. Things can’t move much slower than that. The governor submitted suggested changes that could be made to the bill during a special session over the summer.
Hopefully, the changes come as soon as July, Vermonters are tired of waiting. Proponents of the bill have taken issue with the governor’s decision:
“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, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Lawmakers have an opportunity to address the governor’s concerns and pass a revised bill this summer, and we are excited about its prospects.”
The state has the highest marijuana use in the country and second-highest when it comes to people aged 12 to 25. So keeping marijuana illegal is doing nothing to deter the use of it in Vermont.
Proponents of legalization believe that it is better to regulate and tax the industry than to keep it underground. The underground market makes it easier for adolescents to get their hands on pot. With a legal market, most dealers wouldn’t have the incentive to keep selling.
Had the bill passed, Vermont would have been the first state to legalize marijuana through a vote from the state legislative body. On the other hand, all eight states with legal pot passed their legislation through public referendums.
Reasons for the Veto
Even though Vermont Governor Scott isn’t completely against legalization he lists public safety, children’s health, and intoxicated driving as reasons for the veto.
There isn’t enough evidence to support any of this. In fact, research hasn’t found any strong links between legal cannabis and intoxicated driving. There is also evidence to suggest that legal weed dropped teen use.
Now that there is enough evidence to disprove myth made by prohibitionists the latest strategy appears to be to stall legalization by any means necessary. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are nearly 20 other states with pending bills to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.