Vermont just made history by becoming the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through the state legislature rather than via ballot initiative.
Governor Phil Scott (R) signed the legalization bill behind closed doors today, a decision made because he didn't think it was appropriate to hold a signing ceremony for the controversial legislation. “[S]ome people don’t feel that this is a momentous occasion,” Governor Scott explained prior to the event, adding, “the main thing is I will sign it.”
Those people undoubtedly include Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been pushing to crack down on states that have defied federal cannabis prohibition by legalizing recreational use. So despite the lack of fanfare, Governor Scott's decision sends a clear message that states won't be intimidated by Sessions' threat of federal interference.
And the lack of pomp and circumstance won't dampen the spirits of the state's cannabis consumers, who will no longer have to hide their love of marijuana behind closed doors.
As of July 1, when the law comes into effect, they will legally be allowed to possess up to an ounce of dried marijuana and grow up to four plants at home (though only two can be mature). The sale of recreational marijuana will remain illegal in the Green Mountain State for now, but that could change in the near future if a commission currently studying the issue recommends pursuing a retail market. So don't plan a canna-vacation to Vermont yet, unless you know a local who's willing to share their stash.
With the move, Vermont becomes the 9th state to legalize recreational marijuana and the first to do so since the number of legal states jumped from 4 to 8 on Election Day 2016. Vermont will likely be joined later this year by New Jersey as well as up to six other states.