Vermont officially became the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana use on Monday.
Vermont governor Phil Scott signed into law a bill that decriminalizes weed possession of up to one ounce and eliminates penalties for up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. After several years of attempts, the Green Mountain state became the first to ever legalize marijuana through legislation instead of ballot voting. A similar bill was being considered in 2017, but Scott vetoed it because it lacked a strong stance on punishment for marijuana sales to minors. It also instituted a study on how to make Vermont a consumer market for recreational marijuana, and well...let's just say Vermont's lawmakers aren't quite there yet.
“Today, with mixed emotions, I have signed H. 511,” Scott said in a statement to Vermont’s General Assembly. “I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children.” Gov. Scott also said he is not signing a law to establish a legal marijuana market until the legislature provided more answers about driver safety and how to prevent marijuana consumption by minors.
With statewide elections coming up in November, marijuana will no doubt be a hotly debated issue during the campaign trail. “Some Republicans feel vulnerable if they support this kind of legislation, even though the support for this is majority across all parties,” Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, according to Huffington Post. “The cultural sentiment is still in some of those districts, and they don’t feel the support is there yet.”
According to studies, there is strong evidence why marijuana legalization is something that should be supported. A new study found that medical marijuana has helped reduce violent crime in states neighboring Mexico by as much as 13 percent on average, and 15 percent in California when it was legalized there.