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25 May 2017, 01:29 | Nichole Osborne
You won't find this vice on the Vegas Strip
Phil Scott announces Wednesday in Montpelier, Vt., that he is vetoing legislation that would have made Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group, said he was disappointed by the veto, "but we are very encouraged by the governor's offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session".
The policy changes suggested by Scott include tighter restrictions to keep pot out of the hands of minors, aggressive penalties for intoxicated drivers and expansions to the state's Marijuana Regulatory Commission to include representatives from the state departments of health, taxes and public safety, along with substance abuse and treatment professionals.
If Vermont's bill had not been vetoed, it would have been the first state to legalize recreational marijuana via a legislative body, not a public referendum.
Eight other states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana.
Phil Scott (R) has vetoed legislation that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use, delivering a blow to legalization backers who hoped Vermont would be the next domino to fall. Sections of this bill must be rewritten to make clear that existing penalties for the dispensing and sale of marijuana to minors and on school grounds remain unchanged.
Polls conducted in 2016 by Vermont's public radio station and in 2015 by Castleton Polling Institute found that a majority of Vermonters support legalizing adult marijuana use.
"My gut tells me that most of our members are opposed to legalization and will not be wanting to suspend rules".
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have bills pending that would legalize marijuana for adults; more than half of states allow medical use of marijuana.
In its work to develop a regulated system, the Commission must also produce a detailed estimate of the General Fund revenue required for the adequate regulation, enforcement, administration, education and prevention recommendations it shall make.
Opponents of the legislation thanked Scott for killing the bill, but they said they anxious about a possible follow-up. The Senate favors a "tax and regulate" approach, with licensed growers and state-sanctioned retail outlets.
But with the stroke of Scott's veto pen, all that work has come to naught-at least for now.
Scott believes the Legislature could satisfactorily revise the bill as soon as next month, when lawmakers are expected to return for a veto session related to a showdown over the state budget. "I think that we need to move a little bit slower". While the Senate wanted a bill that would include taxing and regulating legal marijuana sales, the measure passed by the House, House Bill 170, only allowed for personal possession and cultivation.
Until recently, it appeared the two chambers would be unable to resolve those competing philosophies this year.
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