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Vermont House Speaker Doubts Legal Marijuana Will Happen in 2016

News Posted Apr 27 2016

Over the last few months Vermont has had some traction to become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through the legislature, but recent news of lack of support may set the bill back by a year or more. After making it to the House the bill was cut down tremendously, going from a liberal recreational marijuana bill down to a simple decriminalization bill only allowing up to two cannabis plants at home. After another revision by the Ways and Means Committee the proposal would now legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana as well as the two cannabis plants at home, however there would be no retail marijuana market. With the latest revision, more lawmakers have shown support again, but this session's deadline is May 7, and if the bill is not passed by then it will likely wait to be revisited until 2017.

House Speaker Shap Smith recently told reporters that with the legislative session set to expire at the end of next week, not to mention the inability of the House to come to some agreement on a functional proposal, it is not likely that Vermont will legalize a recreational pot market this year. He said there simply are not enough votes in either chamber for Governor Peter Shumlin to expect a bill to land on his desk anytime in the near future.

“Many Vermonters have been very vocal in support of allowing limited home cultivation, and it appears their voices did not fall on deaf ears,” said Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This amendment breathes new life into S.241. The House is engaged in a very deliberative process, and we’re hopeful it will do the right thing and end marijuana prohibition in Vermont.” 

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