On Jan 22, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed a bill into law that makes marijuana legal for adults in Vermont. H. 511 eliminates Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and removes penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants for people 21 and older, beginning on July 1.
“After more than 15 years of hard work by MPP and our allies in the state, adults in Vermont no longer need to fear being fined or criminalized for low-level marijuana possession and cultivation,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “This is a great step forward for the state and the whole region. Responsible adults will soon have the freedom to enjoy a safer option legally, and law enforcement will be free to concentrate on serious crimes with actual victims. We are looking forward to working with lawmakers and state leaders to continue improving marijuana in the Green Mountain State.”
Vermont is the ninth state to make marijuana legal for adults and the first to do so through its legislature. Eight other states have enacted laws legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use, all through ballot initiatives. In Washington, D.C., voters approved a ballot initiative making personal possession and home cultivation legal for adults 21 and older.
“Gov. Scott and the Vermont Legislature made history today by removing penalties for adult possession and limited cultivation of marijuana, and they are almost certainly just the first to do so,” said Matthew Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Lawmakers around the country are finally catching up with their constituents and realizing that there is no reason to punish responsible adults for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Vermont exhibited real leadership on this issue, and we urge other state legislatures to work toward sensible marijuana policies with the same diligence.”
Fifty-seven percent of Vermont voters support allowing adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana, according to a statewide survey in March by Public Policy Polling. An October 2017 Gallup poll found 64% of Americans support making marijuana legal.
The Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island legislatures are expected to seriously consider making marijuana legal for adults this year as well, and the New Hampshire House recently approved a similar measure. In Michigan, signatures have been submitted for a November 2018 ballot measure to regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults.