Cannabis for adult use was finally legalized in the state of Vermont on Sunday as the bill that aims to authorize its use was passed at last.
Vermont is the first state to permit the adult use of cannabis by an act of the state legislature. According to the law, adults in the state are now allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, and two mature and four immature cannabis plants.
The legalization makes Vermont the 9th state in the U.S., along with Washington DC to legalize cannabis for the recreational use.
These states and Washington, D.C. legalized the adult use of cannabis through the citizen vote, on the other hand, Vermont’s law contains no mechanism that sanctions for a state resident referendum.
It was Governor Phil Scott who signed the bill into law in January. He said that he signed the law in private with “mixed emotions”. Citing practical concerns, Scott vetoed the earlier version of the law in 2017.
Both chambers of Vermont’s state legislature approved the revised version in January this year.
The regulation contains no mechanism for the sale or taxation of cannabis but the Vermont Legislature is expected to develop the system for both.
But the groups and individuals against the legalization have voiced their concern.
They said that the legalization would increase the use among the youth. In a letter to Colorado’s governor in 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited a federal study that reports cannabis use by teenagers in the state increased by 20 percent since it was legalized in 2014.
The same study was continued to the track the use of the youth of the substance through 2016 and it eventually showed a decrease of 13.5 percent.
Residents of Vermont celebrated the win for cannabis on Sunday. Heady Vermont, an organization advocates for cannabis legalization hosted an event in Johnson, Vermont on a farm owned by Keith Morris.
“It’s not smoking weed as much as is celebrating our ability to be able to do that, our ability to grow these plants, and more importantly the professionals to come out with open conversations and move away from the stigma,” Morris said.
Governor Scott has assembled a commission on cannabis which is tasked to issue recommendations for the adult-use cannabis market by the end of this year.
As of the moment, anyone who is caught selling cannabis in the state can be charged with up to two years of jail time and a $10,000 fine.
The current penalties do not affect the state’s medical cannabis program which has about 5,000 registered patients as of this time.
Vermont’s medical cannabis laws allow for up to five licensed dispensaries for a total of 7,000 medical cannabis patients and only allows a limited number of conditions. Medical cannabis patients are allowed to possess up to two ounces of cannabis
Two other states in the northeast region of the U.S. are also considering to legalize the adult cannabis market this year. Phil Murphy, the current governor of New Jersey has said that he is determined to make the adult use of cannabis legal in his state by the end of this year.
New York has also finally completed their long-awaited report by the New York State Department of Health last June. The report recommends the lawmakers to proceed with the legalization of cannabis in the state.