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25 May 2017, 01:38 | Violet Powell
Office of Vermont Lt. Governor via CNN
Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday said he would veto legislation that would have legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in Vermont. Scott, a Republican, said he was not "philosophically opposed" to legalization, but he still had concerns-mostly regarding public safety and children's health-that the bill did not adequately address.
Opponents of the legislation thanked Scott for killing the bill, but they said they anxious about a possible follow-up. In the meantime I will sit with fingers crossed that Governor Scott is truly open to the idea of legalization, and that if changes are made to the legislation, that he will indeed sign it when it comes to his desk. "I'm sure you have friends who do, too".
Proponents of legalization, including Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, expressed disappointment over the governor's announcement. Instead it called for a legislative commission to study whether and how to put such a system in place, making it more akin to law in D.C., which allows personal possession and cultivation but not legal sales, than to the tax-and-regulate states.
"This change would have saved taxpayers money, allowed police, the courts, and community groups to re-prioritize their resources toward addressing more serious crimes and the opioid epidemic that is ravaging Vermont". The governor's comments make clear that legalization of marijuana in Vermont is only a matter of time - and some small tweaks to the bill.
Third, the Marijuana Regulatory Commission section must be enhanced in order to be taken seriously.
Vermont lawmakers are working to find a compromise with Republican Gov. Phil Scott over the state budget, which he has vowed to veto because of a disagreement over teacher health care plans. He also wants the bill to include money for regulation, enforcement and education.
Opinions on marijuana legalization do not fall neatly along party; age; or geographic lines.
While the Senate might have the votes to override the governor's veto, the same is not true in the House, which passed the bill by a vote of 79 to 66.
Adult recreational marijuana use is now legal in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine and Washington, D.C. But pot is only sold commercially in half of those states, while the other half are still regulating how to proceed after recent legalization votes. "We need to move a little bit slower".
"I'm very hopeful that lawmakers will make the changes he's asking for, and that next month the state will become the first in history to end cannabis prohibition by an act of the legislature".
"We are all concerned about youth safety and roadside safety", said Laura Subin, director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana. On one hand I see the Vermont effort as demonstrating the progress that has been made in Vermont on the issue, but on the other hand I am leery of the Governor's position that he willing to work with the Legislature to get the job done.
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