Vermont, the “Green Mountain State,” has become the first state to legalize marijuana by passing a law in the legislature rather than by use of a ballot measure.
Gov. Phil Scott signed H. 511 into law “with mixed emotions” Monday night, allowing for the possession of recreational marijuana.
Long one of the most liberal states in the country, Vermont legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2004 and recently decriminalized possession of a small amount.
This is Vermont’s second attempt at passing a marijuana bill in the past year. State lawmakers last spring passed a bill legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
But Scott vetoed the bill, saying it did not adequately protect public safety. He said he was generally a “libertarian” on the issue but asked for more protections against stoned driving and children’s access to marijuana, which this bill provides.
“As I said when I vetoed S. 22 in May, I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children,” Scott said in a statement following the bill signing.
“While this legislation decriminalizes, for adults 21 and older, personal possession of no more than 1 ounce, and cultivation of two mature plants on their private property, marijuana remains a controlled substance in Vermont and its sale is prohibited,” the statement added.
“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.”
Although several states have legalized possession, cultivation and distribution of pot in recent years, marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
In the US, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of marijuana.