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Vermont governor vetoes marijuana bill, wants changes made

Published:Wednesday | May 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Republican Gov Phil Scott yesterday vetoed a bill that would have made Vermont the ninth state to legalise recreational marijuana but indicated that he was willing to work with the Legislature on a compromise.

Scott said he was sending the bill back with suggestions for another path forward and called for changes to be made to the proposal, such as more aggressive penalties for smoking pot while driving or in the presence of children.

"We must get this right," said Scott, who is hoping the Legislature can make the fixes during a veto session in late June.

Scott has said he is not philosophically opposed to marijuana legalisation, but has concerns about public safety, children's health and how to measure impaired drivers.

Under the legislation, small amounts of marijuana would have been legal to possess and grow for anyone over age 21.

Eight other states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalised recreational marijuana. Vermont would have been the first state to legalise marijuana by vote of a state legislative body. The other states and DC legalised marijuana after public referendums.

Legalisation advocates said that although they were disappointed by the veto, they were encouraged there's a path forward.

Studies by the Vermont Department of Health have found that Vermont has among the highest prevalence of marijuana use in the country and the second-highest use among people ages 12 to 25.