Vermont legalizes recreational marijuana sales and becomes the 11th state to legalize the drug.
Marijuana sales are now legal in Vermont.
On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that he will allow a recently passed bill legalizing the sale of marijuana by legislature to take effect. Both marijuana possession and growing were previously legalized in Vermont. Similar to other legal states, the new bill allows for a tax-and-regulate, commercialized system.
While the legislation fully takes effect this month, there will be a window for state regulators to start issuing licenses for retailers that lasts through October 2022. This means that it could still take two years for legal recreational sales within the state.
In addition, Scott signed a bill that will help expunge past marijuana convictions and free inmates who were incarcerated due to marijuana charges. Those who were expunged will receive a notice in the mail.
This bill makes Vermont the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana sales. Ten years ago, there were no states in the U.S. that allowed marijuana to be used recreationally. This November, many other states are voting on recreational marijuana bills including Arizona and New Jersey.
While Scott voiced some concerns over the sales bill, he suggested that it be tweaked within the legislature even after it becomes law during the 2021 session. Scott’s main concern was that he felt the bill offered “an unfair head start on the market” to current medical marijuana businesses and that the 30% tax would be “raided by Legislature and used for other unrelated purposes.” Currently, the bill sets up taxes to be used to fund drug misuse programs.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. However, starting with the Obama administration, the government has reduced federal interference and allows states to legalize cannabis.
Those in favor of the bill argue that it will eliminate the harmful effects from marijuana legislation, which include racial disparities between arrests, hundreds of thousands of U.S. arrests, and billions of dollars that flow from drug cartels that fund violent operations globally.
Those who oppose the bill claim that a huge marijuana industry will make marketing the drug irresponsible. They cite the history of tobacco and alcohol industries to support their claims. They believe that both of these industries have used their heaviest consumers to build their financial empires. Even if negative health consequences arise, they believe that this will lead to more marijuana usage.
Supporters of the bill are now winning in Vermont. The state joins Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington, where recreational cannabis programs have already been implemented. In the 2020 election, two states are voting on medical marijuana legalization (Mississippi and South Dakota), four states are voting on the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes (South Dakota, Montana, Arizona, and New Jersey), and one state (Oregon) is voting on the legalization of psilocybin for medical purposes and the decriminalization of small amounts of all drugs.