While some states enacted some form of a medical cannabis program, the plant was not legal for recreational use in any of the 50 American states — California’s Proposition 215 in 1996 at that time covered usage and plant growth only for medical use with a valid doctor’s note (or recommendation).

 

Cannabis legalization history was made during the night of Obama’s re-election in 2012, when it was legalized for recreational use in the states of Colorado and Washington. Dispensaries were allowed to sell to people 21 and over, and the legislation facilitated new businesses and products using cannabis in some form. Within 4 years, cannabis became a $9 billion a year industry; it is estimated that the cannabis industry will accrue up to $11 billion in 2018, particularly with the addition of legalized marijuana in California.

 

According to Forbes, as of 2017, all eight states that legalized cannabis did so by voter initiative. What this means is that registered voters create a petition with enough signatures to force a public vote. Once the petition gets enough votes, it is put on the state ballot; and, if majority of registered voters in the state vote in favor of legalization, then lawmakers will enact those laws into effect in their respective state.  For example, Colorado’s Amendment 64 stated explicitly that  “there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning marijuana, and, in connection therewith, providing for the regulation of marijuana”.

 

Only days after Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III rescinded the Cole Memorandum which prohibited federal lawyers from prosecuting citizens of states that use cannabis legally within the law, Vermont passed a piece of legislature that legalized recreational cannabis.

 

On January 4th, The Green Mountain State became a bit more green — and I am not just speaking about tax revenue. Both legislative houses of Vermont originally approved of a legalization measure but Governor Phil Scott vetoed the legislation, stating that “small revisions” needed to be made to the legislation before he would sign. Once those revisions were made, Governor Scott signed the bill.

 

Why Vermont is unique in terms of their legalization is that, cannabis was legalized directly by the lawmakers as opposed to through the citizens. The lawmakers listened to their constituents’ opinions and through their power, the plant that the majority of The Green Mountain State supports is now legal.

 

That said, there is one crucial caveat that legislators have stipulated. Commercial sales of marijuana is prohibited. Yes, while growing up to six plants and/or possessing up to one ounce of marijuana is legal for anyone above 21, commercial sales of the products in places such as dispensaries will not be legal for the first few years of legalization.

 

Governor Scott said that a state commission would have to measure how safe cannabis is for the general public of Vermont before recreational cannabis sales will be allowed in the state. But citizens are allowed to purchase marijuana seeds themselves and grow the plants a la Nancy Botwin from the TV show, “Weeds”.

 

Vermont makes number nine of U. S. states to legalize cannabis. Political strategists are saying that additional states likely to legalize in 2018 are New Jersey and Michigan.

 

What are your thoughts on Vermont’s approach to legalize cannabis? Tweet me @captainkasoff and let me know!