Vermont governor vetoes marijuana bill

Had Gov. Scott not vetoed the bill, Vermont would have become the first state to legalize marijuana through the state legislature. Above, the governor waves to supporters on election night in November.

"I am sad to see the governor disregard the will of most Vermonters and reduce individual liberties in our state", Zuckerman said in a statement.

Scott summoned reporters to a fifth-floor conference in the Pavilion building Wednesday to announce his decision. "I'm sure you have friends who do, too".

"If [lawmakers] are willing to work with me to address my concerns with a new bill, passed during the veto session this summer, there is a path forward".

"I am not philosophically opposed to ending the prohibition on marijuana, and I recognize there is a clear societal shift in that direction", he said.

"If the Legislature agrees to make the changes I am seeking, we can move this discussion forward in a way that ensures the public health and safety of our communities", he said.

"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", said Matt Simon, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Since the Legislature passed S.22 on May 10, I have received a great deal of advice on this issue, and taken the time to fully understand what this legislation proposes to do. "Fair enough. Scott would also like to, ".more aggressively penalize consumption while driving, and usage in the presence of minors. He also wants a more exhaustive study of the impacts of legalization, including "an education and prevention strategy to address use by minors, and a plan for continued monitoring and reporting on impacts to public health".

In February, Scott came out strongly in opposition to a more comprehensive Senate proposal that would have also licensed and regulated the commercial cultivation and retail sale of marijuana to adults.

Given the gravity of this policy change, I would like to see the Commission have at least a year before making final recommendations.

"What you do behind closed doors in your own home, as long as you're not affecting others, it's OK".

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Opponents of the legislation thanked Scott for killing the bill, but they said they anxious about a possible follow-up.

Bennington County Sen. Dick Sears is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and one of the strongest advocates for legal weed in the Vermont Statehouse.

"Despite the veto, this is a huge leap forward", said Simon.

Senate President Time Ashe, a Democrat and Progressive, says Senate members will review compromise measures this week. "Rather than looking to the future, Gov. Scott seems intent on repeating the failures of the past". "I think that we need to move a little bit slower".

Opinions on marijuana legalization do not fall neatly along party; age; or geographic lines.

House lawmakers in 2016 rejected similar legislation.

A veto session is scheduled for June 21. Sears says moving a bill through the legislative process in such short order would nearly certainly require rules suspensions - rules suspensions that opponents of the bill aren't inclined to support.

But Scott left open a "path forward" for passing the bill later this year, saying that if a handful of changes were made, he could support it.

Representatives from the Vermont Association of Police Chiefs, the Vermont Medical Society, and the Vermont American Academy of Pediatrics were among those groups opposing S. 22.

The House and Senate had been split on what kind legalization framework is best for Vermont. It would have created a study commission to develop legislation to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use.

The bill as written would make possessing a small amount of marijuana legal by July 2018. Another 19 states have legalized medical marijuana.

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