Decision Day in Vermont: Will the Green Mountain State Legalize Pot?

Vermont Governor Phil Scott

MONTPELIER, VT — Vermont Governor Phil Scott has until midnight tonight to sign or veto a bill that would make the Green Mountain State the first in the nation to legalize marijuana through the state legislature.

A spokesperson for the Governor’s office says Scott will either sign or veto the bill, but will not let time run out and allow the measure to become law without his signature.

Governor Scott’s office says he will announce his decision by noon today, but the Governor has not yet made a decision, according to the Associated Press.

Nearly two weeks after passing both chambers of the state legislature, Vermont’s marijuana legalization bill landed on the desk of Governor Phil Scott on Thursday, and the clock is now ticking for the Governor to take action.

Under Vermont state law, the Governor has five legislative days to review the measure and make a decision.  If Gov. Scott does not sign or veto the bill by midnight, the measure will automatically become law.

Unless the bill is vetoed by Scott, Vermont will become the first state to legalize marijuana through the state legislature.

If the measure becomes law, adults 21 or older would be allowed to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana.  Beginning in July 2018, it would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and remove penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. It would also create a study commission to develop legislation to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use.

Retail sales of marijuana are not authorized under the measure, however.

It is unclear if Gov. Phil Scott, who has previously expressed support for decriminalizing marijuana, will veto the bill.  The Governor has also said that “the timing’s not right” for legalization.

In February, Scott came out strongly in opposition to a more comprehensive Senate proposal that would have also licensed and regulated the commercial cultivation and retail sale of marijuana to adults.

Fifty-seven percent of Vermont voters support allowing adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana, according to a statewide survey of 755 registered voters conducted in March by Public Policy Polling. Only 39% are opposed.

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