Vermont has been ready to end cannabis prohibition for some time now and it's finally almost here. Despite Attorney General Session's recent move to lift protections from state legal cannabis businesses, Vermont legislators moved to legalize the possession of cannabis as well as the ability to grow the plant in your home. An earlier version of the bill was mostly supported last year but turned down by Governor Scott because he does not want to end cannabis prohibition by starting with legal commercial sales. The new bill passed last week by the Vermont House of Representatives does not include sales, but it does make Vermont the first state to legalize cannabis through the legislature as opposed to voter initiatives. With New Jersey's new Governor to be sworn in this month New Jersey could follow as the next state to fully legalize cannabis through the legislature.
Under the Vermont legislation, an earlier version of which passed the Senate last summer, commercial sales of cannabis would not be allowed. But if the proposal is enacted, as is expected, the state would become the first to legalize marijuana by an act of lawmakers. To date, all eight states that have ended cannabis prohibition have done so via voter initiatives.
Vermont fell just short of ending marijuana prohibition in 2017. Both legislative chambers approved a legalization proposal, but Scott vetoed it. However, the governor then laid out a few small revisions he wanted legislators to make in order to garner his signature. The Senate quickly acted to make the requested changes, but the House wasn’t able to overcome procedural hurdles to pass the revised bill in time during a short special session over the summer.