Last month, Vermont lawmakers were just a single step away from legalizing recreational cannabis use, sending a House-approved measure onto the desk of Republican Governor Phil Scott. Unfortunately, at the last moment, the governor decided to veto the bill, but stated that he would send the legislation back with suggestions that would help attain his approval.
Since then, state representatives have been reworking Senate Bill 22, and are now awaiting the feedback from Gov. Scott. On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Dick Sears and House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Maxine Grad sent a replacement cannabis measure to the governor’s office, but have yet to hear back about the proposed compromise.
Just like S.22, the newly crafted legislation would legalize the possession of cannabis (up to one ounce) and the cultivation of up to two mature and four immature marijuana plants per person by July 1, 2018. It would also place a commission in charge of creating regulations for an eventual retail marijuana market.
Although he has expressed support for legalization, Gov. Scott was unsatisfied with a few aspects of the measure that he ended up vetoing. For instance, the governor has asked for stronger penalties against those who sell to minors and consume cannabis in their vehicles. He has also called for a more extensive commission that would include representatives from the Department of Public Safety, Department of Health, and Department of Taxes.
Sen. Sears claims that the new proposition addresses a number of Scott’s concerns. The compromise includes an amendment that would disallow the public use of cannabis. There will also be fines leveled on those caught using marijuana in a vehicle or around minors. Additionally, the new measure would allow both the governor and State Legislature to appoint six members to the cannabis commission.
Gov. Scott was expected to respond to the new proposal by Monday, but has yet give his answer to whether or not the changes satisfy his concerns. But with the current two-day legislative session coming to a close, the future of recreational cannabis in Vermont hangs in the balance, and again will likely come down to another last minute decision.