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Vermont Governor to Create “Blue Ribbon Commission” to Study Cannabis Legalization

Governor Phil Scott is willing to sign a bill to legalize weed in Vermont next year if changes are made.

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This past May, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott had the dubious honor of being the first U.S. governor to veto a marijuana legalization bill that was passed by the state legislature. Scott has said that he would support the bill if changes were made, and lawmakers believe they can have that revised legislation passed by early 2018. In the meantime, Scott has proposed that a “blue ribbon commission” be created to study the risks and benefits of legal weed.

Scott noted that legalization is “happening all around us with Massachusetts, Maine, Canada. It’s certainly forming around us. I just think it’s imperative that we stay ahead of the curve as best we can.”

The governor said that he would announce the members of the new commission “in the next few days,” and commission is expected to take a full year to undertake their study and report findings back to the state.

The governor said that the primary short-term focus of the commission will be safety. “For me it’s to address some of the issues that I had initially about highway safety: How do we work with our neighbors? How do we make sure that we’re protecting the most vulnerable and our kids?” Scott said.

After safety issues are considered, the “next step” would be to study the creation of a legal recreational market.

State Senator Dick Sears, a proponent of cannabis legalization, said that the commission could help state legislators figure out the most effective ways to regulate a legal cannabis market. “Should we do something like Washington state? Should we do something like Alaska? You know, various other models. That’s what I was hoping we’d look at: ‘How to,’ rather than, ‘If,’” he said.