|RT | May 12, 2017|
|© Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters|
The legislation was approved by a 79-66 vote on Wednesday and would eliminate penalties for adults 21 years and older, allowing them to possess one ounce or less of the drug beginning in 2018, according to WPTZ.
Vermont becomes first state to pass legal marijuana bill with legislature https://t.co/LXzCSnwfa1pic.twitter.com/Zb6sNgX5LP— Breaking News Americ (@AmericNews) May 11, 2017
However, public consumption and private sales would remain against the law.
The bill was identical to one passed by the Senate that also set up a commission to study the best way to regulate and tax marijuana.
The #VT House has approved marijuana legalization in a 79-66 vote. The bill now goes to @GovPhilScotthttps://t.co/AYxpElp0NZpic.twitter.com/SptKwntJnY— Vermont Public Radio (@vprnet) May 10, 2017
“He’ll review the bill when received to determine if those questions are addressed,” spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said after the vote, according to AP.
The governor’s office is now reviewing the draft legislation which could take a few weeks.
Medical marijuana program ‘could save US taxpayer $1bn’ – study https://t.co/79KcZd84Yh— RT America (@RT_America) April 24, 2017
“This is voting for trouble. We’ve had a lot of problems, and this is only going to make it worse,” said Rep, Ben Joseph, (D-North Hero), according to AP.
Others who oppose the bill say the state already has a heroin crisis.
Three years ago, then governor Peter Shumlin devoted his entire State of the State address to the crisis, focusing attention and resources on the public health problem before it became a nationwide issue. Despite those efforts, the “crisis” is still claiming lives. Figures, obtained by Seven Days, show that 100 Vermonters died from fatal opiate overdoses in 2016.
Supporters argued that marijuana use in the state is already prevalent and passing the law could give the state a say in its regulation, eliminate the black market and possibly increase state revenue.
“I would contend it is irresponsible to not get a handle on this issue,” Rep. Susan Buckholz said.
4 governors ask Trump admin to chill out on marijuana enforcement https://t.co/3mLt1hHLbb— RT America (@RT_America) April 4, 2017
Vermont lawmakers commissioned a Rand Corporation study in 2014, released in 2015, which showed the state could gain between $20 and $75 million a year in tax revenue. The study also noted the taxes could be vulnerable to either federal interference or market competition if a neighboring state were to legalize the drug.
Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana.
The vote by Vermont lawmakers is the first to legalize the drug separate from a voter initiative.