Senate passes marijuana legalization bill

MONTPELIER — A bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana on Wednesday cleared the last hurdle in the Vermont Legislature.

The measure, H.511, now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Phil Scott for approval. He has previously said he would sign the legislation.

With Scott’s signature, Vermont would become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through legislation, rather than by voter initiative.

The Senate passed the measure Wednesday afternoon by a voice vote.

Last Thursday, after several hours of debate, the House passed the legislation 81-63.

The measure legalizes the possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana and two mature and four immature marijuana plants by people 21 or older.

Once the bill cleared the House last week, Senate passage was virtually assured since that chamber approved essentially the same legislation in June.

However, during a Wednesday morning session of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a vote set for the afternoon seemed like it could be delayed at least a day. That’s because some committee members wanted to clarify the amount of marijuana that people could have within a single “dwelling unit.”

According to information provided by the Office of Legislative Council later Wednesday morning, regardless of how many people 21 or older reside in a “dwelling unit,” each unit is limited to two mature marijuana plants and four immature plants.

After a brief discussion, the panel then voted 4-1 to advance the bill to the full Senate.

Committee members voting to advance the legislation were Sens. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, Jeanette White, D-Windham, and Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, who is Senate president. Sen. Alice Nitka, D-Windsor, cast the lone committee vote in opposition.


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