On Wednesday, Vermont lawmakers approved a measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana, which if not vetoed by Republican Governor Phil Scott, would make the state the ninth to legalize the plant, and the first to do so by legislation, rather than ballot initiative.
The U.S. state’s House of Representatives approved the measure,which was attached to a bill increasing penalties for the possession and sale of the opioid drug fentanyl, by a 79-66 vote. The state’s Senate passed the measure, which would take effect in July 2018.
The new measure would allow adults aged 21 and over to buy and use marijuana.
Governor Scott has not yet said if he will veto the measure. His spokeswoman, Rebecca Kelley, told Vermont Public Radio on Tuesday that he was still reviewing the bill and had some concerns about people driving while under the influence.
“Vermont lawmakers made history today,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project advocacy group. “It’s time for Vermont to move forward with a more sensible marijuana policy.”
“Today’s vote is historic,” said David Holland, Esq, executive and legal director of Empire State National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), “because for the first time, lawmakers absent a voter referendum and public mandate, have taken positive action to legalize marijuana. This brave step for Vermont, and a breakthrough event for states like New York, which must rely on their elected leaders to deal with the issue of legalization, because we do not have the ability to bring change by voter referendum. I hope this emboldens our political leaders to delay no longer and to have faith that the vast majority of New York wants legalization today.”
Stay tuned as this story develops on HIGHTIMES.com.
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