Vermont Legislature Votes to Legalize. But Will the Gov Sign It?

Published on May 10, 2017 · Last updated July 28, 2020
The Vermont State House, Montpelier, Vermont.

Vermont looks increasingly likely to become America’s ninth state to legalize the adult use of cannabis—and the first to do so via the legislative process.

The Vermont House today approved a Senate-passed bill (S.22) that would legalize possession of cannabis for all adults in 2018. At around 2:30 pm (EST) today the House announced that they had passed the bill. S.22 now moves on to Gov. Phil Scott’s desk for approval.

The current proposal would legalize personal possession and home cultivation of a very small amount of cannabis. Vermont’s one ounce possession limit would 1/10 the limit of neighboring Massachusetts (10 ounce limit) and less than half that of Maine (2.5 ounces).

As explained in today’s Heady Vermont,  the one ounce figure does not include cannabis harvested from the allowed two mature plants (defined as showing buds) and four immature plants, that would be allowed for home cultivation.

S.22 also calls for a commission to study how the state might eventually tax and regulate cannabis. The nine-member commission would need to meet before August 1, 2017, and three months later present the legislature and Governor with recommended legislation that would create a regulated system.

Sen. Dick Spears, D-Bennington, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that not everyone is pleased with the bill, but it’s the best they could do.

“I believe strongly that while this isn’t what we all wanted, this may be the best that we can get at this point,” he said. “This is an effort to put something that might have an opportunity to pass this session.”

House Judiciary Committee Chair Maxine Grad (D-Moretown) said she’ll ask her committee Wednesday to recommend the full House pass the bill.

“I will put this on the table and see what happens,” Grad told Seven Days. “I’m pretty confident I have the votes [in committee] to concur. Then beyond that, I don’t know.”

If the House goes along with Grad’s recommendation — and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signs the bill — Vermont would be the first state to legalize cannabis through legislation instead of by a public vote.

The bill is currently up for consideration on the House calendar today, though there are always possible delays that could happen—and it’s unclear whether Scott will sign the bill. Lawmakers are currently planning to adjourn for the year later this week.

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Gage Peake
Gage Peake
Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
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