Cannabis advocate were hopeful that Vermont would become the first state to pass a recreational cannabis bill when the legislature passed S 22 on May 10th. The New York Times Editorial Board even weighed in this morning encouraging Scott to sign the “DIY approach.” But, today, Governor Phil Scott (R) decided to veto the bill and “send it back to the legislature”.
Citing the last-minute rush to pass S 22 in the final days of the session as well as shortcomings in the bill related to access for minors, tougher penalties for impaired driving, and the structure and timing of the commission created by the bill, Scott held a press conference to announce he will veto the bill today. He did, however, express willingness to work with the legislature during the summer veto session to possibly get a bill passed with his recommended changes by July, assuming lawmakers are willing to work with him on a compromise.
Given the specific nature of his recommended changes, and the expressed willingness, it seems very possible that a compromise bill will get through this summer and take effect July 2018. This would put Vermont in line with several neighbors including Massachusetts, Maine, and Canada to implement cannabis bills for the summer of 2018.