This week, the Vermont Senate approved an amendment to a House marijuana decriminalization bill that would create a system of legally taxed and regulated recreational marijuana sales. The original bill, H. 170, would eliminate the state's civil penalty for possessing an ounce or less of pot. That bill was expected to pass the House, but was unexpectedly kicked back to committee last month over concerns about lack of support.
Vermont Senators, tired of waiting for the House to pass the bill, decided to force the issue by approving an amendment that would fully legalize marijuana sales in the state. The amendment, which was approved by a vote of 21-9, would also allow Vermont residents to grow their own weed at home. The amended bill requires one more procedural vote from the Senate, after which it will be returned to the House for further consideration.
It is currently unknown how the House will react to the amended version of the bill. Last year, the state Senate approved a similar bill legalizing marijuana, but it ended up being voted down by the House. It is also unknown whether Vermont Governor Phil Scott would veto the bill if it were to pass both chambers.
Scott has said he is not necessarily opposed to legalization, but would prefer to wait and look to other canna-legal states for guidance. However, if he did veto the bill, the 21 Senators who voted to approve the amendment could override his veto.