Vermont lawmakers took final action on Wednesday to make the state the first in U.S. history to legalize marijuana by an act of lawmakers. Gov. Phil Scott (R) has pledged to sign the bill into law.
While eight other states and Washington, D.C. have also ended cannabis prohibition for adults over 21, they did so with voter-approved ballot initiatives.
Vermont’s legislative move signals a milestone in the evolving politics of marijuana. Polls consistently show majority voter support for legalization, and more politicians are beginning to see the issue as a winning one they should embrace rather than run away from.
In neighboring New Hampshire, the House of Representatives approved a similar legalization bill on Tuesday.
The marijuana victories come just days after the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era guidance that generally allowed states to implement their own legalization laws without federal interference.
Both New England states’ proposed laws provide for a noncommercial approach to marijuana under which possession and home cultivation of relatively small amounts would be allowed, but storefronts and sales would not.
In Vermont, the bill would allow people over 21 years of age to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow as many as two mature and four immature cannabis plants.
Once legislative counsel finalizes the bill formatting and it is officially transmitted to the governor’s desk, he will have five days to act on it.
Last year, the state fell just short of legalizing marijuana. The legislature passed a bill to legalize personal cannabis possession and homegrow, but Scott vetoed it. However, in doing so, he laid out a few small changes he wanted legislators to make in order to win his support. The Senate quickly acted to make the requested revisions, but