So far, all the states with legal recreational marijuana have gotten there by voter lead initiatives. It seems that much of the time, state governments are afraid to take the approach themselves, but the people knew what they wanted and they got it.
In Vermont things are working a little bit differently – for example, the state’s constitution does not allow for voter lead ballot initiatives. For many states this would mean that prohibition is nowhere in sight, but Vermont is a bit more progressive than that.
After legalizing medical marijuana back in 2004 through the legislature, it is not too surprising that they would eventually start to consider a recreational approach as well. The main reason for that is the success in states like Colorado and Washington who have seen crime drop and tax revenue increase well beyond expectations.
This is a unique opportunity available in Vermont – most state governments are not so open to the idea of legal marijuana. For the other states who have legalized, the voters made their decision and then it was left to the governments to figure out how to implement something that really isn’t as easy as it sounds.
This has led to a bit of a rocky start for more than one state – Colorado finally deciding on the best way to regulate edibles or Alaska not knowing how to make testing available to rural remote areas.
Since Vermont will be doing this entirely through the government they can take a little more time to figure out what they think will be best for the state from the get-go. They have already visited Colorado recently in order to see how things were being done in what is becoming the state best known for legalizing cannabis.
They have actually been considering this for a couple of years already – two years ago they commissioned a RAND Corporation Report which would take a look at different possible approaches to legalizing marijuana.
By the time that report was in there was at least 12 different possible solutions which scaled from not making much change (if any) to completely removing all marijuana laws. While these are the drastic ends of the spectrum the potential within the rest of that report is probably endless.
One thing is for sure – Vermont will likely be joining the world of recreational marijuana sales soon. The current state Governor Peter Shumlin has made his position on legalization clear and he intends on making that one of the last things he does while in office.