It’s official—Vermont has officially decriminalized and legalized recreational cannabis.
According to an official statement from Gov. Phil Scott’s website, he just signed H.511, “an act relating to eliminating penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older,” into law on Mon, Jan. 22.
However, Scott stated that he did so with mixed emotions, indicating some inner turmoil regarding the issue of legalization. He made it clear in his statement that while he supports the right of adults to consume cannabis behind closed doors, this new bill does not allow the sale of it. “While this legislation decriminalizes, for adults 21 and older, personal possession of no more than one ounce, and cultivation of two mature plants on their private property, marijuana remains a controlled substance in Vermont and its sale is prohibited,” his statement explains. “Also, consumption of marijuana in public places is prohibited. Consumption of marijuana by operators and passengers in a motor vehicle is prohibited. Schools, employers, municipalities and landlords are also empowered to adopt policies and ordinances further restricting the cultivation and use.”
In their coverage of the bill signing, The Hill points out that this is a compromise between those who want cannabis completely outlawed and those who want full legalization. However, many are seeing this as a major setback for a future industry, including the plant’s detractors. “By signing this, the Governor essentially killed any chance of full legalization,” Kevin Sabet of the anti-cannabis group Smart Approaches to Marijuana told The Hill. “In so many ways, this is a big setback for the pot industry. Vermont will be off-limits to them for the foreseeable future.”
This certainly can be seen as a stumbling block to the industry. However, the facts that recreational cannabis is now legal in Vermont, and that the medical program has recently been expanded, still spell out a bright future for legalization in this state.