On Sunday July 1st, 2018, a bill legalizing Vermont recreational cannabis went into effect. The bill was first signed in January of 2018 by Governor Phil Scott. Adults are now able to use cannabis recreationally and possess up to one ounce of marijuana at a time. It also permits the possession of up to two mature plants and four immature plants at a time. Though supported by most of Vermont citizens, the bill faced initial criticism from Governor Scott who vetoed an early version in 2017 and signed the new version into law with “mixed emotions.”
Vermont’s approach to legalizing recreational cannabis was surprisingly atypical. Rather than a voter referendum that all other eight states and Washington D.C. have used, Vermont legalized recreational cannabis through a state legislature vote. Though the state congress legalized the bill, it likely would have passed if faced with a statewide vote.
Cannabis Legalization Was Not Controversial For Many
Vermont, home of Senator Bernie Sanders, is known as a very liberal state. So it comes as no surprise that most of Vermont is in favor of legalizing recreational cannabis. Deputy Director of NORML Paul Armento said, “The majority of Vermonters, like the majority of the American public, desire to live in a community where responsible adults who choose to consume cannabis are no longer criminalized or stigmatized.” Armento went on, “Vermont is leading by example. Lawmakers in other states would be wise to follow.”
Armento’s comments reflect the importance of Vermont’s legalization. Being only the 9th state to do so, Vermont will be experimenting with determining the best way to run a legal recreational cannabis program. Currently there is no system of taxation for Vermont’s program. But the state legislature is expected to vote soon to determine just how to tax cannabis sales.
There are currently very few details as to how the program will actually be run. So the responsibility is on the state legislature to quickly develop a comprehensive plan for cannabis taxation and regulation. Once this important process is completed, residents of Vermont and cannabis consumers can begin to enjoy recreational cannabis with peace of mind.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.