Vermont governor vetoes marijuana bill, wants changes made

May 24, 2017 by Lisa Rathke

Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have made Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana but indicated that he was willing to work with the Legislature on a compromise.

Scott said he was sending the bill back with suggestions for another path forward and called for changes to be made to the proposal, such as more aggressive penalties for smoking pot while driving or in the presence of children.

"We must get this right," said Scott, who is hoping the Legislature can make the fixes during a veto session in late June.

Scott has said he's not philosophically opposed to marijuana legalization but has concerns about public safety, children's health and how to measure impaired drivers.

Under the legislation, small amounts of marijuana would have been legal to possess and grow for anyone over age 21.

Eight other states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana. Vermont would have been the first state to legalize marijuana by vote of a state legislative body. The other states and D.C. legalized marijuana after public referendums.

Legalization advocates said that although they were disappointed by the veto, they were encouraged there's a path forward.

"We are all concerned about youth safety and roadside safety," said Laura Subin, director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana. "We hope we can work with the governor and the legislature to come up with a proposal that reflects those priorities."

Studies by the Vermont Department of Health have found that Vermont has among the highest prevalence of marijuana use in the country and the second-highest use among people ages 12 to 25.

Vermont's legislature passed the measure six months after residents in Massachusetts and Maine voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Both states are now developing mechanisms to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana. The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Besides seeking more aggressive penalties for people who smoke marijuana while driving or while in the presence of children, he is also calling for an expansion of a commission that would develop a proposal to tax and regulate marijuana. He wants it to include representatives from the Vermont departments of Public Safety, Health and Taxes as well as the substance abuse prevention and treatment community. He says the panel should have a year before making recommendations.

Nearly 20 states have bills pending that would legalize marijuana for adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Explore further: Canada tests lower age for pot legalization

Related Stories

Canada tests lower age for pot legalization

May 18, 2017
The most controversial thing about Canada's move to legalize marijuana nationwide may be setting the minimum age for use at 18. That's three years lower than in U.S. states that have embraced legalization.

Smoke 'em if ya got 'em, as legalized marijuana takes hold

January 30, 2017
It was a green Monday in Maine.

Researcher forecasts next 5 states likely to OK recreational marijuana

March 4, 2015
With laws going into effect last week that legalized recreational marijuana in both Alaska and Washington, D.C., a researcher into the history of cannabis' acceptance has predicted the next five U.S. states where voters could ...

Kids peppered with pot ads

March 29, 2017
(HealthDay)—There has been an alarming increase in young Americans' exposure to marijuana ads as more states legalize the drug, a new study contends.

Argentine Congress votes to legalize medical marijuana

March 30, 2017
Argentina's Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to legalize medical marijuana, joining the lower house and setting the country on course to become the latest to relax its laws on pot.

Did teen perception, use of marijuana change after recreational use legalized?

December 27, 2016
Marijuana use significantly increased and its perceived harm decreased among eighth- and 10th-graders in Washington state following enactment of recreational marijuana laws, according to a UC Davis and Columbia University ...

Recommended for you

Early studies of male birth-control pill show promise

March 23, 2018
Well, well, well. The ball has been knocked roundly into your court, gentlemen.

Whether sustained or sporadic, exercise offers same reductions in death risk

March 22, 2018
For decades, Americans have been inundated with a confusing barrage of messages about how best to counteract the health risks of sedentary lifestyles: walk 10,000 steps a day; do a seven-minute workout from a phone app; flip ...

Tai chi as good as or better than aerobic exercise for managing chronic pain

March 21, 2018
The ancient martial art of tai chi has similar or greater benefits than aerobic exercise for people with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, finds a trial published by The BMJ today.

Study: Poor health is a less common cause of bankruptcy than commonly thought, but it brings other economic woes

March 21, 2018
A team of researchers led by an MIT economist has found that medical expenses account for roughly 4 percent of bankruptcy filings among nonelderly adults in the U.S.

Study finds bad sleep habits start early in school-age children

March 21, 2018
Bad sleep habits in children begin earlier than many experts assume. That's the takeaway from a new study led by McGill University researchers. The findings suggest that official sleep guidelines for young school children ...

Medical expansion has improved health—with one exception

March 21, 2018
While Americans debate the rising cost of health care, a new study of 30 countries over 27 years found that medical expansion has improved overall health - with one major exception.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.