Vermont Governor Phil Scott Vetoes Recreational Marijuana Bill

Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) made the decision Wednesday to veto a bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana in the state. Scott stated that his decision was based on a perceived need for changes in the bill. The biggest sticking point for the Governor is marijuana related DUIs or, “how impaired is too impaired.”

Marijuana Use Related to Impaired Driving

The issue of marijuana related impairment when driving has been a point of emphasis and concern in every state where marijuana has been legalized. In Colorado and California, two states where marijuana use is in the mainstream, the legal limit is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. This level of THC though is highly criticized because someone who hasn’t consumed marijuana in days can still test positive and therefore face arrest and conviction.

Concerns Over Underage Access

Governor Scott is also concerned about childhood access to marijuana and wants the recreational legalization process to reflect his concerns. Though Vermont only currently has legal marijuana for medical patients, the state still has the second highest of all states among those aged 12 to 25. Scott stated that he would be open to signing a recreational marijuana bill into law but only after his concerns over child use and driving restrictions.

Scott Drawing Criticism

The veto has been met with concern though. Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman stated, “Prohibition has failed and causes approximately 100,000 Vermonters to be labeled lawbreakers.” He elaborated, “Vermont is now lagging behind other states in the region and is missing opportunities to capture revenue from an underground market that would allow us to address highway safety, drug education and treatment, and other needed state investments to reduce the temptation of drug use.”

Zuckerman’s criticisms are absolutely warranted, as has been shown in states like Colorado, when full legalization has been instituted, education about the dangers of teen use is more readily available to those at risk. Further, by vetoing the bill, Phil Scott is putting money into the hands of criminals and other unregulated black-market dealers. When marijuana is legalized and regulated completely, teen use, crime, and amount people driving impaired all go down.

Governor Scott said he’ll address the state legislature with his concerns. If the changes are made and care is put into the issues he believes are important, Scott believes, ”there is a path forward on this issue.”

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