Vermont governor vetoes marijuana bill, wants changes made

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The two-week wait is over: Vermont Gov. Phil Scott vetoed legislation on Wednesday that proposed a legal framework for recreational marijuana.

Though he said he views the issue "through a libertarian lens", Scott vetoed the bill due to concerns about detecting and penalizing impaired drivers, protecting children, and the role and makeup of a Marijuana Regulatory Commission.

"We are disappointed by the governor's decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor's offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session", says Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

We must get this right. It must include a broader membership, including representatives from the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Health, the Department of Taxes, and the substance abuse prevention and treatment community. If lawmakers make certain changes to the legislation, he'd be willing to come around, he said. "I'm sure you have friends who do, too".

Scott announced Wednesday he will send the bill, S.22, back to the Legislature because the measure does not meet his requirements on a few key points.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have bills pending that would legalize marijuana for adults; more than half of states allow medical use of marijuana. Scott has been non-committal about what he'd do with the bill, saying he's "not ideologically opposed" to legalization, but that he has serious concerns about the impact of more permissive cannabis laws on highway safety.

Adults 21 or older would have been allowed to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana: beginning in July 2018, it would have eliminated Vermont's civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and removed penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants.

Laura Subin, of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, said she was not surprised to hear Scott's concerns about the bill.

"My gut tells me that most of our members are opposed to legalization and will not be wanting to suspend rules". "I think that we need to move a little bit slower". The Senate favors a "tax and regulate" approach, with licensed growers and state-sanctioned retail outlets.

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. After sitting on it for most of the session and almost burying it in committee, the House narrowly passed the thing, doing so at such a later hour that the Senate had to attach its version as an amendment to another bill. Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia.

"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".