Vermont House approves bill legalizing possession and home growing of marijuana

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Brushing aside fears of a possible federal crackdown, Vermont’s House approved legislation Thursday that would permit adults older than 21 to possess small amounts of marijuana and grow their own plants beginning in July.

The vote came after lawmakers rejected two attempts to slow marijuana legalization, first by refusing to delay a vote in response to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision Thursday to revoke the Obama-era Cole Memo that allowed states to permit legalized cannabis businesses.

House lawmakers then staved off amendments that would have delayed the bill’s effective date, the Burlington Free Press reported.

The measure now heads to the Vermont Senate, which has already approved the bill but in a slightly different form.

Once the differences are reconciled, the bill will head to Gov. Phil Scott, who vetoed a recreational marijuana measure last year but has previously said he’ll sign this year’s version.

It’s not clear whether Scott could change his mind in response to Sessions’ actions Thursday.

If the legislation is ultimately approved, Vermont would be the first state to legalize the possession and home growing of cannabis.

Marijuana activists praised Vermont’s vote despite fears that the Department of Justice would interfere.

“It is becoming clear that states are tired of helping the federal government enforce outdated and harmful marijuana policies and are ready to make this legal for adults,” Matthew Schweich, interim executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.