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Vermont Legalization Push Falls Flat, Dead Till 2018

June 22, 2017

For the fifth time in two years, the Vermont Senate passed a bill that would legalize adult-use cannabis only to see it fizzle out in the House.

During a special veto session Wednesday evening, House Republicans blocked consideration of the legalization bill, S 22, delaying further action on the issue until January.

The measure needed 107 House votes but only received 78. Sixty-three members voted against the plan. The measure was being considered during the special session following a veto by Gov. Phil Scott.

The bill would have allowed people 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and up to six total cannabis plants, two of which could be mature. It would also have removed civil penalties.

When Scott vetoed the bill, he indicated his desire for tougher criminal penalties for selling cannabis to minors as well as for consuming cannabis in the presence of minors. He also called for stiffer penalties for those caught driving under the influence of cannabis.

The revised version of the bill included those changes, clarifying penalties for people who provided cannabis to minors or who consume in a vehicle. The new version would have also expanded the membership and scope of a study commission, which Scott wanted put in place, that would have studied the possibility of a opening a legal cannabis market in the state.

Nearly all of the House Republicans, who hold 53 seats in the House, voted against considering the cannabis measure during the special session.

“Everybody in this state understands that marijuana is going to become law in Vermont at some point,” said House Republican Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, speaking at a party caucus, according to the Burlington Free Press.

“Someday it’s going to be here,” Turner said. “But is this the time? I don’t know.”

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Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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