Today, S. 22, a bill to legalize cannabis in Vermont for adults over 21, landed on Republican Governor Phil Scott’s desk – potentially making the state the first in the country to legalize marijuana through the legislative process, and not a ballot initiative. The bill has already been approved by both chambers of the state legislature; now the governor has five days to decide whether to sign or to veto it. But even if he does neither, on Wednesday, May 24th, it would automatically become law.
If passed, the measure would legalize possession of up to an ounce of weed, two mature plants and four immature plants, beginning July 2018. It would also create a study commission, effective immediately, to look at cannabis tax-and-regulate models in other states and make recommendations for the adult use market in Vermont. (It’s unclear at this time whether Vermont would adopt a regulated market, or simply allow citizens to grow and share cannabis with their friends.)
Vermont’s legalization bill is significant because it’s the first of its kind to originate and pass within a state legislature, without citizen participation. All other adult use legalization measures passed via popular vote. “It’s a slower and difficult process,” says Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “But the reality is that prohibition has failed in Vermont, and the majority of Vermonters are ready to move on with a new approach.” [Read more at Rolling Stone]