Vermont has legalized the sale and taxation of recreational marijuana in the state without Governor Phil Scott’s signature. Feature photo source: Flickr

This makes Vermont the 11th State to Legalize sale of recreational marijuana.

In a letter addressed to the Vermont Senate on October 7, Governor Phil Scott announced that he will allow the S.54 bill to become law without his signature. 

“Today I am letting S.54, An act relating to the regulation of cannabis, go into law without my signature,” he stated.

Governor Phil Scott’s Letter to the Senate

Governor Scott has been hot and cold about the bill since it was first proposed. As late as two days ago, he still hadn’t decided what his stance was.

“Obviously I have until tomorrow to come to a conclusion on that and I’m still weighing all the options and moving in that direction,” Scott said, adding that he’s “weighing what [legislators have] done, again, in good faith.”

Despite being happy with the proccess the bill went through for approval, Scott maintained his concerns in the letter.

“However, there is still more work to be done to ensure the health and safety of our kids and the safety of our roadways. We should heed the public health and safety lessons of tobacco and alcohol. Further, I believe we are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history which requires us to address systemic racism in our governmental institutions. We must take additional steps to ensure equity is a foundational principle in a new market,” read part of his statement.

Find the letter attached here.

Vermont Marijuana Laws

Vermont was the first state to legalize recreational Marijuana use through the state legislative process rather than by voter initiative. It was the ninth state to clock in an adult-use industry.

The Vermont Senate Passes the Marijuana Sales Legalization Bill

The S.54 bill allows for the retail sale and taxation of cannabis. It was passed by the Vermont Senate last week on September 22, leaving the final verdict up to the Governor. Governor Scott has historically been opposed to the bill. Just recently, Scott reiterated that he might veto the legislation due to racial equity concerns. 

Governor Phill Scott on Racial Equity Concerns

The Governor recently changed his tune on the reasons for opposing the policy change. Initially, he cited issues such as impaired driving, taxes and local control as holding him back from supporting the marijuana reform bill. The racial concern only cropped up later.

During a debate on Thursday with his challenger, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman (D), Gov. Phil Scott (R) said that he needs time to reflect. Certain racial justice groups urged him to veto the tax-and-regulate bill.

Debate with David Zuckerman

Governor Scott and Democratic/Progressive gubernatorial candidate David Zuckerman met for a gubernatorial debate at Mad River Barn in Waitsfield on Tuesday, September 29, 2020.

Here, Scott brought up the social equity concerns he has with the once more.

Scott said, “In terms of the pot bill, I haven’t made up my mind about that. I have received a lot of groups—racial equity groups—that are asking me to veto it,” Scott said. “I was leaning towards letting it go, but I’m really questioning that at this point. I want to hear and listen from them.”

David Zuckerman’s Vision for the Marijuana Bill

Zuckerman, on the other hand stated that if he were governor, he would certainly have signed the bill.

“This has been a long time coming to bring the underground market aboveboard, to work to reduce access to youth and to make sure that what is out there is a cleaner product so we don’t have contaminated or adulterated product out there,” he said. “We could use the resources being of both economic development but also for after-school programs, as I believe is in the bill, for youth prevention of this as well as other drugs.”

Phil Scott and David Zuckerman Debate on Vermont Marijuana Legalization

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