Cannabis will become legal for adults in Vermont on Sunday, making it the ninth state to lift its prohibition on adult marijuana use (in addition to D.C.) and the first to do so via the legislative process.
H. 5111 was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott in January. It eliminates the state’s civil penalty for possession of up to one ounce of pot and removes penalties for cultivation of up to two mature cannabis plants and four immature plants by adults 21 and older.
“Vermonters are ready to end marijuana prohibition,” says Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which has been lobbying in Vermont since 2003. “Adults shouldn’t be punished for using a substance less harmful than alcohol, and starting July 1 they no longer will be in the Green Mountain State.”
“Now that marijuana is legal for adults, it’s time for the state to get serious about regulating it and ensuring it is being produced and sold safely and legally,” Simon adds.
The Governor’s Marijuana Advisory Commission, which formed last year to develop a plan to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use, will issue its final report by Nov. 15. A newly elected legislature will consider that proposal when it convenes in January.
“A regulated market will create jobs and spur economic development, giving young adults a reason to stay in Vermont rather than seeking opportunities in other states,” Simon says. “It will also produce much-needed tax revenue that can be used for substance abuse treatment and prevention. Most Vermonters understand that eliminating penalties is only the first step in ending marijuana prohibition, and they expect legislators to finish the job in 2019.”
Eight other states have enacted laws legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use, all through ballot initiatives, and Michigan voters will consider a similar proposal in November. In D.C., voters approved a ballot initiative making personal possession and home cultivation legal for adults 21 and older.
Canada approved countrywide recreational cannabis earlier this month.