Vermont Legislature Is First to Pass Legal Pot Bill

Other states did so via ballot measure
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2018 12:03 AM CST
Vermont Lawmakers Pass Legal Pot Bill
James MacWilliams prunes a marijuana plant that he is growing indoors in Portland, Maine.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

There may soon be another reason to call Vermont the Green Mountain State: The state is poised to become the first in the US to legalize marijuana through its legislature instead of a ballot initiative. The Democratic-controlled state Senate passed a legal marijuana bill Wednesday, a week after it was passed by the Democratic-controlled state House. Republican Gov. Phil Scott has signaled that he plans to sign the measure into law soon, the Los Angeles Times reports. The eight other states to have fully legalized marijuana all did through via ballot measures, which are banned in Vermont and 22 other states.

The Vermont bill allows adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and two adult plants, but it does not set out a framework for retail sales. New Hampshire's GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed a similar bill Tuesday, though Republican Gov. Chris Sununu does not support legalization. Legislatures in states incuding Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey are also working on legalization bills, despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions' reversal of an Obama-era policy that let legal marijuana flourish. "Vermont in particular doesn't care very much what the attorney general thinks," pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Matt Simon tells Reuters. "With the way this bill is written, having a few plants, there's nothing that the feds could do even if they wanted to." (More Vermont stories.)

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