Earlier this month, Vermont lawmakers made the historic decision to approve their own recreational cannabis bill. This measure could have made them the ninth state to legalize marijuana, but more importantly the first to legalize marijuana through legislative channels instead of through a citizen referendum. However, since then, the bill has been awaiting the final say of Republican Governor Phill Scott.
After deliberating up to the very last day about whether he would sign the proposal or not, Scott has just announced that he will veto the measure. While Vermont has narrowly missed the opportunity to legalize recreational cannabis, the governor has also expressed his willingness to rework the bill and “move a little bit slower.” At the moment, it’s not exactly clear what changes he would prefer to make to the now-rejected legislation.
Scott has announced that he will be sending the bill back with suggestions to help the state legislature start down a fresh path. These changes could potentially make it onto a new measure that would be proposed during a special session this summer. The Republican governor has insisted that he’s not philosophically opposed to recreational legalization, but has raised concerns about children and public safety.
The proposed measure would have allowed adults to legally possess and grow small amounts of cannabis. Local supporters have expressed their desire to create a regulated market instead of having to depend on the black market. According to the Vermont Department of Health, the Green Mountain State has the highest prevalence of marijuana use in the entire country, producing a valid argument for full-scale legalization.
With the neighboring states of Massachusetts and Maine are already setting up their own recreational cannabis programs, Vermont is stuck contemplating the best way to implement legalization. Governor Scott certainly seems willing to work on integrating recreational legislation, but in a state where marijuana use is at a nationwide high, cannabis supporters are likely growing weary of the governor’s hesitation.