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Backers of Cannabis Legalization Hope for Compromise in Vermont

May 25, 2017
Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announces Wednesday in Montpelier, Vt., that he is vetoing legislation that would have made Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Scott said he was sending the bill back the legislature with suggestions for changes. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Supporters of a bill vetoed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott that would have legalized marijuana in Vermont said Thursday that they are hopeful that a compromise on the legislation can be reached next month, but lawmakers aren’t so confident.

On Wednesday, Republican Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the bill, saying he was sending it back to the Legislature with recommendations for changes, such as more aggressive penalties for smoking cannabis while driving or in the presence of children and clearer and tougher penalties for selling and dispensing marijuana to minors.

“There’s no reason that we couldn’t come to an agreement with the governor next January that would still be effective July 1, 2018.”
Sen. Richard Sears, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman

Eight other states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana. All did it through a referendum. Vermont’s bill would have legalized possession and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis for adults.

“There’s an opportunity to get this done this summer and have Vermont be the first state to do this legislatively,” said Matt Simon of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana.

Democratic Sen. Richard Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he reviewed the governor’s suggestions and there were a few issues legislators would agree with and a few that would require more examination. However, he questioned whether a compromise could be reached during a one- or two-day veto session in June if House Republicans aren’t willing to suspend the legislative rules to allow legislation to move more quickly.


Vermont Gov. Vetoes Cannabis Legalization Bill

“There’s no reason that we couldn’t come to an agreement with the governor next January that would still be effective July 1, 2018,” Sears said.

House Republican Leader Don Turner has said GOP representatives support the veto and he sees no reason to expedite or circumvent the legislative process by suspending the legislative rules.

The governor’s spokeswoman said a rules suspension is not required for lawmakers to stay and work on a compromise.

Scott noted Wednesday that he doesn’t believe marijuana legislation is the highest priority in the state.

“There’s nothing that says we have to do this,” he said.

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  • Christopher Hayden


    In Vermont the citizenry has no legal right to hold voter referrendums. The state constitution will not allow it (without an ammendment.)

    The Vermont legislature recently distiguished itself among the 50 states by voting to legalize recreational mariuana. All prior instances of this failed prohibition policy being reversed by state governments were done by voter referrendum.

    As mentioned, Vermonters don’t have that option. Our state government has never trusted us to make our own decisions. But even so, the legislature voted to legalize pot.

    And what happened? Governor Phil Scott vetoed the bill. The same governor who quietly rewarded ex-Rutland city mayor Christopher Louras with a special state job after he got himself voted out on his ass for attempting to unilaterally and secretly bring 100+ Moslem refugees from wartorn Syria into Rutland, thus establishing a Sharia seed community in the midst of of our state. Louras did everything he could to sneak this all right under the noses of everyone save for a small handful of co-conspirators.

    Thanks Phill Scott. We see that you don’t trust us to make informed decisions on our own behalf. But please explain why we should trust you to do it for us when you reward treasonous, sneaky behaviour like that of Mr. Louras with a cushy state job when he should be in prison if not strung up by the neck with a rope in the big yard at Leavenworth?