Less than a month has passed since Bill S.241 was introduced to the senate in the state of Vermont. This is likely the biggest bill to pass through the legislature in years – and will remain so for some time to come for sure. Bill S.241 is aiming to legalize recreational marijuana – and if it passes it will be the first of its kind to do so.
It wasn’t long before the bill was approved by the Senate Committee. The bill itself is rather simple – it would legalize possession of up to one ounce to adults 21 and older; state licensed retail dispensaries would be selling the products and edibles and home-grow laws are not permitted – however they do pose a study that would examine those aspects further for future consideration.
“The Senate has worked diligently and deliberately on this legislation,” said Matt Simon, the Montpelier-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most Vermonters believe it’s time to end prohibition and regulate marijuana, and it appears most of their state senators agree. We are hopeful that the Senate will approve this commonsense legislation and send it over to the House for its consideration.”
The bill seems to have strong support throughout the state – with the most recent poll showing 55% of Vermonters approve of passing Bill S.241 into law. The bill passed the Senate Committee with a 4-3 vote – and a preliminary vote from the Senate came in of 16-13.
Senator Rebecca Balint said she supported the legalization bill in principle – but she will not be voting for its passage at the Senate floor vote.
“But I stand here today, reluctantly, to say that I will be voting against this bill … because I believe this bill does not allow room for the homegrown folks in my county and the smaller growers who would like to be part of this new, viable business,” she said.
If the bill does pass in the Senate this week, then it will still need to make its way through the House for approval. There could be some hiccups there, we will just have to wait and see. If both the Senate and the House pass the bill, it will be up to Governor Pete Shumlin – who has made it clear he plans to sign the bill into law.
“This bill will allow Vermont to undercut the black market and get rid of illegal drug dealers, focus on prevention and treatment, and do a better job than we do currently of keeping marijuana out of the hands of children and addressing drugged drivers who are already on Vermont’s roads,” said Gov. Shumlin. “The War on Drugs policy of marijuana prohibition has failed. We can and should take a smarter approach. I look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature as this bill moves forward.”
This is really exciting – seeing lawmakers take an honest and safe approach at legalizing marijuana without being forced into it. Seeing them realize that the current system has failed us and that there is absolutely a better way. Let’s hope for Vermonters’ sake that the House is just as on board as the Senate has been so far.