Recreational marijuana now legal in Vermont as new law takes effect

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MONTPELIER, Vt. — Recreational marijuana became legal in Vermont on Sunday as a bill authorizing its use went into effect. The state was the first to legalize the recreational use of the substance by an act of a state legislature, and the law allows adults to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, two mature and four immature plants.

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Vermont became the ninth state in the country, along with Washington, D.C, to allow the recreational use of marijuana. The other states and Washington authorized the recreational use of marijuana through a vote of residents. Vermont law contains no mechanism that allows for a citizen referendum.

Gov. Phil Scott signed the bill into law in private with “mixed emotions” in January. In 2017 he vetoed an earlier version of the law, citing practical concerns. Both chambers of the state legislature passed the revised version in January.

The law contains no mechanism for the taxation or sale of marijuana, although the Legislature is expected to develop such a system.

Opponents of legalization in other states have said increased use among teenagers is cause for concern. In a letter to Colorado’s governor last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited a federal study showing marijuana use by young people in the state increased 20 percent since legalization in 2014. That same study continued to track use through 2016, and eventually showed a decline of 13.5 percent.

Vermont residents held celebrations on Sunday to mark the beginning of legalization, CBS affiliate WCAX-TV reported. Heady Vermont, a group that advocates for legalization, hosted a celebration in Johnson, Vermont, on private property.

“It’s not smoking weed as much as is celebrating our ability to be able to do that, our ability to grow these plants, and more importantly the professionals to come out with open conversations and move away from the stigma,” Keith Morris, owner of the farm where the event was held, told WCAX.

 

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