Vermont governor vetoes recreational cannabis use bill

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Vermont Gov. Phil Scott vetoed legislation Wednesday that would have legalized consumption and home cultivation of recreational marijuana, dashing hopes the state would be the first in the nation to approve adult-use cannabis through the Legislature.

But Scott, a Republican, left the door open for compromise legislation that lawmakers could stitch together over the summer.

The vetoed bill, approved earlier this month by lawmakers, could have paved the way for a regulated commercial market in Vermont.

By rejecting the legislation, Scott set back efforts to make Vermont the third New England state to approve recreational marijuana, after Maine and Massachusetts.

In his veto message, the governor said the “Libertarian” in him supported the measure because it respects personal freedom. But that wasn’t enough to override Scott’s concerns that the bill did not sufficiently address testing for and punishing MJ-impaired drivers as well as keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors.

The measure would have established a nine-member commission mandated with issuing recommendations to the Legislature by November on taxing and regulating adult-use cannabis and providing a potential pathway to a fully regulated commercial market.

But Scott said November was too soon for regulations to be drafted and wanted to see the commission given at least a year for the job.

Eight states plus Washington DC have legalized recreational marijuana, but in each instance it was passed by voters.