By Derrick Stanley
Vermont's Senate passed a bill last month that would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for people 21 and over. The bill easily passed with a vote of 17 to 12; this week it is being debated by the state House.
Laura Subin, Laura Subin, director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, has been fighting for the legalization of marijuana in Vermont over the past few years and is finally glad to see the bill make its way through the Senate and now on to the state House.
According to Subin, support for the bill continues to “pour in with large numbers joining the Coalition, liking our Facebook page and wanting to stay informed with updates and alerts from the Coalition.”
Vermont would be the first state to legalize marijuana via lawmakers and not voters.
Vermont state representative Chris Pearson, who penned a House version of the bill, is satisfied with the current legislation.
“The Senate bill would move the state towards a legalized environment for recreational cannabis," Pearson said. "We would tax and regulate it and treat it like we do alcohol and tobacco. It’s not as far-reaching as the bill that I and others introduced, but it’s a big, big step in the right direction.”
The bill up for debate at the House is stricter than the original. It would not allow home cultivation, and penalties for possessing more than an ounce would remain unchanged.
Subin is disappointed in the tight restrictions in the bill, but says it's at least a step closer to making marijuana legal for Vermont residents.