Vermont has taken another step toward legalizing marijuana for adults over the age of 21. On Friday, the Senate voted 21-9 in favor of a bill that would legalize marijuana for adults in the state and would create a regulatory agency on the production and sale of the drug.
The bill had previously been brought up in 2016, but had failed in the House. This amended version includes protection for people who grow the drug in their homes. This bill also removed penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Now, it's on the House to vote on the bill. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has taken a "not now" approach to legalization.
The bill would regulate the production and sale of marijuana in Vermont and eliminate penalties for personal possession and home cultivation by adults 21 and older.
It also would allow unlimited small-scale, licensed grow operations of no more than 500 square feet. It does not include edibles.
The bill would tax marijuana growers and retail shops and would fund a significant youth prevention and education campaign.
The House Judiciary Committee already passed a legalization bill with a 8-3 vote, but it has not yet been introduced on the House floor.
Eight states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana for recreation use. Unlike Vermont, these states legalized marijuana via a ballot measure, not the legislature. Given that a comfortable majority of Vermont residents support legalization, it's likely that a ballot initiative would pass in the Green Mountain State as well. If Vermont does legalize marijuana, it will be the third New England state to do so, joining Maine and Massachusetts.