The Vermont House of Representatives was planning to vote on a bill that would legalize low-level marijuana possession this week, but the bill was unexpectedly kicked back to a committee. House bill H. 170 would remove all penalties for possession of up to one ounce of weed, and allow cultivation of two mature and four immature plants. The House was scheduled to vote on the bill on Tuesday, but the bill was referred to the Committee on Human Services for further review.
H. 170 would not allow cannabis to be sold in Vermont, but advocates believe the Senate could amend the bill to allow legal and regulated sales. If they did, the House and Senate would need to form a conference committee to reconcile the two chambers' versions of the bill into one single bill. A second house bill, H. 490, proposes to move straight to legal sales, but has not been scheduled for a vote.
The delay of the bill may not be a bad thing, as several Representatives who would have voted yes were not present on Tuesday. But now that the bill is in committee, its fate is uncertain. Governor Phil Scott has said that he is not opposed to marijuana, but wants to wait until the state can create better systems to detect impaired driving before he signs off on full legalization. However, it is not known whether he would support the limited legalization of H. 170.