As Deadline Looms, Vermont's Governor Remains Undecided on Historic Recreational Cannabis Bill
Vermont awaits Republican Governor Phil Scott’s approval on a measure that would make the state the first to legalize marijuana through a legislative act instead of a voter referendum.
Published on May 22, 2017

Best known for its majestic natural scenery, beloved U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, the state of Vermont has grown into one of the most progressive strongholds on the East Coast. Over the next few days, Republican Governor Phil Scott will either make a historic or disappointing decision regarding cannabis legalization. 

Although neighboring states like Massachusetts and Maine have already approved recreational marijuana through the will of their constituents, Vermont has the opportunity to become the first- state to legalize cannabis through legislative action. Earlier this month, policymakers from the Green Mountain State approved this pending measure, which would permit cultivation and possession of small amounts of marijuana. 

However, as Scott continues to mull over whether or not he’s prepared to approve recreational legalization, the bill remains unsigned. His indecision has been documented throughout the last few weeks, but with the final deadline on Wednesday, time is running out for the state governor to make up his mind. 

Gov. Scott claims that he isn’t philosophically opposed to cannabis legalization, but has expressed concerns about keeping it away from children. His choices are to either sign the bill into law, allow it to go into law through inaction, or veto the measure and reject legalization.

While the governor’s uncertainty is definitely frustrating to legalization supporters, the fact that his situation has no precedent makes it somewhat understandable that he is taking his time to decide. The recreational system would be fully created and implemented by local policymakers without the need for a voter referendum, making it the first time that a state government would take matters into their own hands.   

If Scott does decide to sign the bill into law, a state cannabis commission would be created to establish rules for an eventual taxed and regulated marijuana industry. These recommendations would then be passed along to the Vermont Legislature for consideration next year. Either way, the immediate future of recreational cannabis in the Green Mountain State will be decided in the next couple of days.     

Tyler Koslow
Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with an intensive focus on technology, music, pop culture, and of course, cannabis and its impending legalization.
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