Vermont Senate passes bill authorizing recreational marijuana use

January 10, 2018 06:26 PM

The state senate in Vermont on Wednesday passed a bill authorizing the recreational use of marijuana. The legislation now goes to Governor Phil Scott who has indicated he'll sign it. The bill would eliminate penalties for possessing up to one ounce of pot and up to four marijuana plants. The bill does not regulate the sale of marijuana.

Eight states so far have legalized marijuana for recreational use, including Massachusetts. With a quick vote on Wednesday, Vermont will soon be the ninth. The Vermont State Senate approved the bill one week after lawmakers in the Vermont House of Representatives voted in favor of it. Governor Phil Scott indicated he'll sign it. And many people aren't complaining.

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"I think it's a good thing because honestly it does more help than anything. It doesn't affect your body in any way," said Vermont resident Mark Vanantwerp.

The measure will allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to once ounce of marijuana. They're also allowed to have two mature plants or four immature plants. Some residents said they're disappointed lawmakers didn't go far enough. There's no mechanism in the bill to regulate the sale and taxation of the drug. People could still get into trouble for sales and distribution of larger amounts.

"I feel like if they legalize it in Vermont there would be a lot less arrests," Vanantwerp said.

Some also said lawmakers should have used a public referendum, like the other eight states were recreational pot is legal, instead of doing it on their own. Nonetheless, they're calling this a good step forward for cannabis advocates and those who believe the drug does more good than harm.

"It helps me. It calms me down. I'm not the same person. It's more mellow," said Vermont resident Jessica Button.

The law would take effect on July 1.


Dan Bazile

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