By Michael Bachara
MONTPELIER — Today, Vermont’s state Senate passed a bill which would legalize social cannabis use for adults over the age of 21.
Under the Vermont legislation, an earlier version of which passed the Senate last summer, commercial sales of cannabis would not be allowed. But if the proposal is enacted, as is expected, the state would become the first to legalize marijuana by an act of lawmakers.
Gov. Phil Scott (R), who is expected to sign the bill, vetoed a social cannabis bill last May, stating he wasn’t opposed to social cannabis but wanted to form a committee to study the issue’s implementation in Vermont.
If signed, the bill allows limited growing of cannabis plants and removes the civil penalty and fine for possessing one ounce or less of cannabis.
According to the Burlington Free Press, Republicans in the state attempted a last-ditch effort to delay the bill until the report is released, but were not successful.
Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin, who was recently appointed to fill a vacancy, said he voted against the bill after hearing opposition from educators, medical professionals, law enforcement officials and constituents.
“This is a federal question,” Brock said. “It needs to be decided federally.”
Legal cannabis proponents, celebrating the bill’s passage, have worked for years to tax and regulate the herb.
“This will be an important milestone for the legalization movement. When Gov. Scott signs this legislation, Vermont will become the first state in the country to end marijuana prohibition through legislative action,” Marijuana Policy Project interim director Matthew Schweich said.
“Now that yet another state has rejected marijuana prohibition, there is even more pressure for Congress to take action to prevent any federal interference from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It’s time for the federal government to respect the authority of states to determine their own marijuana policies,” Schweich added.
This bill’s passage comes just days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the 2013 Department of Justice guidelines directing federal prosecutors to avoid targeting businesses and individuals that are in compliance with state cannabis laws.
The law would take effect on July 1, 2018, if signed by Gov. Scott.
Photo Source: Marijuana Moment