Vermont First State to Legalize Cannabis Without Public Vote

Vermont’s Republican Gov. Phil Scott has ignored the comments of U.S. Attorney General (AG) Jeff Sessions – “good people don’t smoke marijuana” – and legalized cannabis in the state with the simple stroke of a pen. Vermont is the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislative process. 

On Monday, Gov. Scott signed into law H.511, which legalizes the personal cultivation of no more than two mature marijuana plants and four vegetating plants, plus eliminates penalties for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana.

A big fan of the fourth amendment and an individual’s right to privacy, Gov. Scott signed the legislation with some trepidation, according to an official press release from the governor’s office.

“Today, with mixed emotions, I have signed H.511,” Gov. Scott informed the state’s General Assembly. “I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children.”

Effective July 1, Vermont will join the eight legal states, as well as the nation’s capital, in rejecting the federal government’s classification of marijuana as an illegal substance. Just in time to celebrate America’s independence, Vermonters over the age of 21 will be allowed to smoke, grow, or possess personal amounts of cannabis as part of their newfound liberty.

A long road to legalization, Vermont first decriminalized marijuana possession in 2013 and later allowed medical marijuana.

But, while personally legal, any and all commercial marijuana sales or cultivation will be prohibited for the foreseeable future, according to the governor’s statement:

“I look forward to the Marijuana Advisory Commission addressing the need to develop comprehensive education, prevention and highway safety strategies. To be very direct:  There must be comprehensive and convincing plans completed in these areas before I will begin to consider the wisdom of implementing a commercial “tax and regulate” system for an adult marijuana market.”

Just a few weeks ago, Vermont’s elected officials in the House of Representatives passed H.511 just 24-hours after AG Sessions trashed the critical protections offered under an Obama-era directive known as the Cole Memo.

Main photo courtesy of Allie Beckett

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