Although there seemed to be a great deal of promise in Vermont becoming the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana by way of the state legislature, the issue is officially dead for 2017.
On Wednesday, the Senate approved an updated measure during a special veto session that would have legalized up to an ounce of marijuana without establishing a taxed and regulated marketplace. The bill was later executed on the front lawn of the Capitol Building, when the House of Representatives refused to give the latest attempt at this reform any consideration.
It was just last month that Governor Phil Scott vetoed a similar measure, citing multiple concerns, such as highway safety, as reason for not giving the bill his support. However, it was not long after the proposal was considered finished for the year that lawmakers began to discuss a compromise in order to put the governor’s mind at ease.
Once a new version of the bill was finally negotiated, Governor Scott said he would sign it into law if it landed on his desk.
But the House ended up sabotaging the measure because its members failed to take advantage of an opportunity to push it through a one-day waiting period. Still, more could have been done to ensure the bill’s passage. Despite his renewed interest in the measure, Governor Scott never once attempted to encourage the House to take up a vote. He says this is because he never made any promises to get them to suspend the rules.
"I had never made a commitment to push the House and what they were going to do,” Scott said, according to Seven Days. “I said it was up to them,” adding that he never would have worked so hard to come to terms if he intended for the measure to fail.
Unfortunately, the issue will not receive any more attention until lawmakers reconvene at the beginning of next year. If the measure can somehow find its way through any unforeseen obstacles, the state could still technically implement its concept of legal marijuana by the summer of 2018.
At that point, a special commission would be assembled in order to provide the state legislature with recomendations over how the state can launch a full legal market. There is a slight possibility that Governor Scott could appoint a marijuana study group later this year to begin addressing issues pertaining to highway safety and youth prevention.