June 23, 2017 Vermont
Vermont has been trying hard to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Unfortunately, every single time that lawmakers take a measure, something hinders it and brings the entire effort down to the ground. This has been happening throughout 2017 with Vermont’s attempts to legalize the adult-use cannabis. The only good part to every sad ending was that there was always hope to get the measure approved during 2017. Unfortunately, that seems to be gone now.
Vermont was desperately trying to take the ninth spot in the list of states that have legalized recreational marijuana. You can comprehend it by the fact that its Senate passed the legalization bill for recreational use five times within the past two years. None of the time did it pass the House, though.
The bill was vetoed earlier this year by Phil Scott, stating that it needed certain amendments regarding safety concerns. The Veto Session was held this week where, if amended, Phil would have signed the legalization bill. To the misfortune of marijuana advocates, the House Republicans turned the bill down. To make matters worse, the bill was not just turned down, but also blocked for any consideration prior to 2018. There goes the will and effort to get the drug legalized this year.
107 House votes were required in order to get the bill passed. The bill only managed to get 78 while 63 members went against the plan. This happened in the special session that was held after Phil Scott’s Veto Session. If the bill were allowed, it would have permitted people of age 21 and older to possess an ounce of cannabis. In addition to that, it would also have allowed the residential cultivation of four immature and two mature plants. Moreover, the civil penalties regarding adult-use of marijuana would’ve also been removed.
It was Phil Scott’s prime objectives to make the criminal penalties tougher for those who sell recreational cannabis to minors. Another reason for vetoing the bill was its weak DUI applications. In the Veto Session, lawmakers proposed a revised bill which explicitly addresses these matters. In addition, the revised bill also talked about the expansion of the scope of study commission—something Scott wanted, so that a legal cannabis market could be set in place.
The House Republicans hold 53 seats in the House. Leaving a mere few, almost the entire House voted against the proposed marijuana measure. Don Turner—House Republican Leader—talked on this saying,
“Everybody in this state understands that marijuana is going to become law in Vermont at some point,”
He further went on to agree that legalized recreational cannabis will be a part of Vermont sooner or later. But no one knows if the time has come yet or not. It is fair to say that Vermont has been on a roller coaster ride with these measures. On the brighter side of all this, lawmakers now have around six full months to draft a bill that does not contain any loophole and is likely to legalize adult-use marijuana, if not this year, then maybe the next. Its legalization is, however, inevitable!