Vermont governor vetoes marijuana bill, wants changes made

by Noah Mcgee May 25, 2017, 1:38
Vermont governor vetoes marijuana bill, wants changes made

Republican Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed legislation that would have made Vermont the ninth state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana, and the first to do so by an act of the Legislature, as opposed to a ballot initiative.

Even though Vermont Governor Scott isn't completely against legalization he lists public safety, children's health, and intoxicated driving as reasons for the veto. And to be clear, if they are willing to work with me to address my concerns in a new bill passed during the veto session this summer, there is a path forward on this issue.

But in an effort to "get it right", he said the bill needs to improve protections for children and motorists.

He asks that the panel include representatives from the departments of Public Safety, Health and Taxes.

"It is disappointing that Gov. Scott would not only defy the will of of state legislators, but also the will of the majority of Vermont voters who support ending criminal penalties for those adults who consume cannabis responsibly", NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said.

Moretown Rep. Maxine Grad, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee, says she spoke with the governor general counsel on Wednesday.

I always try to listen to, and learn from, different points of view, and want to thank those who have taken the time to reach out over the past few weeks with their thoughts.

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Proponents of legalization, including Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, expressed disappointment over the governor's announcement.

Though the governor is open to moving forward next month on marijuana legalization, House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, does not expect many members of his party to drop their opposition. Scott has been non-committal about what he'd do with the bill, saying he's "not ideologically opposed" to legalization, but that he has serious concerns about the impact of more permissive cannabis laws on highway safety.

"The House, meanwhile, supported a law similar to one in place in Washington, D.C., which removes all criminal and civil sanctions for possession of small amounts of marijuana, but leaves in place prohibitions against sales and large growing operations".

For example, this bill states that one can not use marijuana in a vehicle. Marijuana legalization has been on Vermont's table for a while now. "Most Vermonters want to end marijuana prohibition, and it is critical that the legislature respond by passing a revised legalization bill this summer".

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. "I think that we need to move a little bit slower".

Of the eight states and the District of Columbia that have legalized recreational marijuana, two - MA and ME - are nearby, while Canada, to Vermont's north, is considering legalization. After sitting on it for most of the session and almost burying it in committee, the House narrowly passed the thing, doing so at such a later hour that the Senate had to attach its version as an amendment to another bill.

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