Lawmakers in Vermont passed a bill today that could legalize recreational cannabis. Although today’s actions do not officially make the bill into law, it’s looking like Vermont will legalize cannabis this week.
Vermont Will Legalize Cannabis
Last week, Vermont’s Senate voted to move forward with a bill to legalize adult use weed. From there it went to the House of Representatives. And earlier today, lawmakers in the House approved the bill.
It will now head to Governor Phil Scott for final approval. Vermont will legalize cannabis if Scott signs off on the bill. If that happens, Vermont will become the ninth state in the U.S. to legalize recreational weed.
Here’s what will change if the bill becomes law:
- Adults 21 and over will be allowed to possess up to an ounce of cannabis.
- Adults will be able to grow up to six cannabis plants at home. Only two of the plants can be mature at any given time.
- The state would begin the process of creating a system for regulating and taxing recreational cannabis. The system would be modeled on other states that have already legalized weed.
If Scott signs the bill into law, these changes would go into effect sometime during 2018.
One More Step To Go
So far, legalization has received broad support by lawmakers. There is also widespread support for the bill among the general public, both in Vermont and in the U.S. more generally.
According to a recent survey, 57 percent of Vermonters support legalizing recreational weed. Only 39 percent actively oppose the idea. And four percent said they were not sure.
Despite this support, there is still a chance that the bill will not pass into law. That would happen if Governor Scott chooses to veto the bill.
So far, it is not entirely clear what the governor will do. He has expressed some concerns over how legalization might affect public safety. In particular, he said he’s worried about recreational weed negatively impacting drivers.
According to Vermont laws, Scott has five business days to take action on the bill. If nothing happens at the end of that time period, the bill automatically passes into law. That five-day period can sometimes be extended if the governor is especially busy.
A Historic Bill
Regardless of what happens, Vermont has already made cannabis history. It is the first state to get this far in the legalization process entirely through legislative efforts.
Every other state that has legalized recreational weed did so through popular votes. But Vermont has done it strictly through the lawmaking process.
If Scott signs the bill into law, Vermont will be the latest in a wave of states moving toward legalization. Last fall, four states voted to legalize recreational weed. Those states are California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine.
Similarly, voters in Florida, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota approved new medical cannabis laws. As a result of last year’s elections, one in five Americans now has access to some form of legal weed.
Vermont could open a new chapter in the cannabis legalization movement. It all hinges on what Governor Scott does. In the meantime, we will have to wait and see whether or not Vermont will legalize cannabis.