There was good news and bad news out of Vermont today. The bad news is that Vermont’s Governor decided to veto a marijuana legalization bill that was sent to his desk. The good news is that the battle isn’t over, and the Governor has expressed a willingness to work with Vermont’s Legislature to make some tweaks. The main reasons cited for the veto by Governor Phil Scott was that the legislation didn’t adequately address the need to prevent marijuana from getting in the hands of children, and the need for a commission to study a regulated industry to be afforded more time to conduct their research.
As expected, the reactions to the veto were a mixed bag, with most activists getting very upset at the news of the veto (myself included). On one hand I see the Vermont effort as demonstrating the progress that has been made in Vermont on the issue, but on the other hand I am leery of the Governor’s position that he willing to work with the Legislature to get the job done. After all, the Governor had plenty of time to work with the Vermont Legislature when these bills were being crafted and pushed along in the process. I just hope that this isn’t a foot-dragging situation, much like when cannabis opponents pretend that they aren’t cannabis opponents and ‘just need to see more research’ despite the enormous heap of research that is already available.
I suppose only time will tell which path the legalization effort in Vermont takes. In the meantime I will sit with fingers crossed that Governor Scott is truly open to the idea of legalization, and that if changes are made to the legislation, that he will indeed sign it when it comes to his desk. If not, well, we will go from there. Tom Angell, founder and chairman of Marijuana Majority, released the following statement about today’s news, which I think is on point (as it always is with Mr. Angell):
“While the news today is disappointing, it likely just amounts to a short delay. The governor’s comments make clear that legalization of marijuana in Vermont is only a matter of time — and some small tweaks to the bill.
“I’m very hopeful that lawmakers will make the changes he’s asking for, and that next month the state will become the first in history to end cannabis prohibition by an act of the legislature.
“The fact that a bill even ended up on the governor’s desk signals a new phase of the marijuana legalization movement. Our momentum has now reached a point where the issue has become so popular with voters at the ballot box that more politicians are feeling comfortable enough to grapple with it themselves.”