Cannabis advocates are celebrating this week as the first recreational cannabis bill passed through a state legislature. Lawmakers in Vermont cleared the way for adult-use cannabis sales by passing a compromise bill that now heads to Governor Phil Scott’s desk.
Eight states plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis use, but all of them have done it through a voter ballot initiative. If Governor Scott signs S. 22, Vermont would become the first state to adopt a recreational cannabis bill through the legislature.
The compromise bill does not create a full-blown retail cannabis system. Instead, it does the following:
- Decriminalizes possession of less than one ounce
- Allows home cultivation for up to two mature plants and four immature plants
- Creates a study commission that would identify the best way to regulate retail cannabis sales in Vermont. The commission would draft legislation to be introduced at the start of the next legislative session
- Sets the effective date to July 1st, 2018
It’s unclear at this point whether Governor Scott will sign the bill into law. Although the bill has strong support among the citizens of Vermont, Scott indicated that the bill is not a high priority for the state. The first-term republican governor has the option to veto the bill, sign it, or allow it to become law without signing.