Vermont Legalizes Adult-Use Cannabis

The state is the first to approve recreational marijuana through the state legislature instead of a ballot initiative.

Vermont Next State to Allow Adult-Use Cannabis

Recreational cannabis has already been legalized in eight states - and Vermont just became the ninth. While the move in the left-leaning state does not come as a surprise to legalization advocates, it is noteworthy as it’s the first state to legalize recreational cannabis through the state legislature and not a ballot initiative. Republican Governor Phil Scott has indicated he will soon sign the measure, approved earlier this week, into law.

The legislation allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and to grow two plants to maturity and/or four immature plants, at a time. Unlike other states that have approved recreational pot sales, Vermont’s law does not include the development of a retail dispensary system. It is unclear how end consumers will obtain the plant, although a task force appointed last year will study how to regulate and tax sales.

“This is a big step forward for Vermont,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, in an interview with the LA Times. “Vermonters should be proud that their state is becoming the first to do this legislatively, rather than by ballot initiative.”

State Previously Attempted to Legalize Marijuana

Vermont state legislators tried and failed in the past to legalize adult-use of cannabis. Efforts began in 2014, when then-Governor Shumlin stated his support for a tax-and-regulate system for cannabis after a study commissioned by the state in May 2014 and released in January 2015 stated that Vermont could gain $20 million and $75 million a year in tax revenue. However, it was not until this week that approval was approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Vermont joins Maine and Massachusetts in legalizing adult-use marijuana; several other states in the region are considering similar legislation this year. If all of these states approve legalization, New Hampshire will be the only state in New England without recreational cannabis.

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