Health Care

Vermont governor vetoes marijuana legalization bill: "We must get this right"

Vermont governor vetoes marijuana legalization bill:

"It was a reasonable bill that would have been a step in the right direction and it's a shame Scott will be sending it once more through the wringer where it's anyone's guess how the Legislature will handle it. Scott claims S.22 ".appears to weaken penalties for the dispensing and sale of marijuana to minors".

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.

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". "Fair enough. Scott would also like to, ".more aggressively penalize consumption while driving, and usage in the presence of minors.

Adults 21 or older would have been allowed to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana: beginning in July 2018, it would have eliminated Vermont's civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and removed penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants.

The bad news is that Vermont's Governor made a decision to veto a marijuana legalization bill that was sent to his desk.

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"If [lawmakers] are willing to work with me to address my concerns with a new bill, passed during the veto session this summer, there is a path forward".

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For example, this bill states that one can not use marijuana in a vehicle.

Opinions on marijuana legalization do not fall neatly along party; age; or geographic lines.

During the press conference, Gov. Scott said he has never smoked marijuana, but has several friends that do, noting that they have told him they would continue to buy marijuana on the black market if it was taxed too much in the state. He also wants a more exhaustive study of the impacts of legalization, including "an education and prevention strategy to address use by minors, and a plan for continued monitoring and reporting on impacts to public health".

Scott has promised to veto both the budget and the property tax bill. "I get that", Scotts says.

I want to reiterate that we can all work together on this issue in a thoughtful and responsible way. Previous year the Senate passed a reasonable marijuana bill that included the means to develop a regulated market. Representatives of Vermont Medical Society, Vermont American Academy of Pediatrics and Vermont Children's Hospital have also expressed concerns directly to the governor. 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.

If the Legislature agrees to make the changes I am seeking... we can move this discussion forward in a way that ensures the public health and safety of our communities and our children continues to come first.



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