Vermont Governor Phil Scott Vetoes Marijuana Legalization

  • by NORML May 24, 2017

    Cannabis PenaltiesRepublican Gov. Phil Scott today rejected legislation, Senate Bill 22, that sought to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for the adult use and possession of marijuana. The Governor said that he did not support the legislation as written, but remains open to working with lawmakers over the summer on ways to amend the state’s cannabis policies.

    Representatives from the Vermont Association of Police Chiefs, the Vermont Medical Society, and the Vermont American Academy of Pediatrics were among those groups opposing S. 22.

    “It is disappointing that Gov. Scott would not only defy the will of state legislators, but also the will of the majority of Vermont voters who support ending criminal penalties for those adults who consume cannabis responsibly,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Minor marijuana possession offenders should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it. Rather than looking to the future, Gov. Scott seems intent on repeating the failures of the past.”

    Senate Bill 22 would have amended state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to two mature plants (and up to four immature plants) would have no longer been subject to penalty, beginning July 1, 2018. It also established a nine member commission to make recommendations to the legislature regarding how best to regulate the adult use marijuana market.

    State lawmakers approved the measure earlier this month. It was the first time that a legislative body ever approved legislation eliminating criminal and civil penalties for adults who possess or grow marijuana for non-medical purposes.

    House lawmakers in 2016 rejected similar legislation. That measure had been supported by former Gov. Peter Shumlin.

    35 responses to “Vermont Governor Phil Scott Vetoes Marijuana Legalization”

    1. TheOracle says:

      New Jersey is supposed to be prime for legalization.

      New Jersey! Yeah, New Jersey! You call us the Garbage State, the Armpit of New York. Well, bitches be coming to Jersey to get weed. New Jersey’s gonna live up to being the Garden State. And you know what they’re growing in the gardens. You want it, and everybody’s gonna be headed here buying Jersey weed.


    2. SessionsIsCancer says:

      Is there a way to recall the governor in VT? And more importantly, why did the progressive state of VT elect a reactionary?

    3. Evening Bud says:

      Geez, a Republican Gov. vetoes MJ legislation–who’d uh thunk?

    4. Ruben Jesus Hernandez says:

      Another Republican wants to keep prohibition going & the cannabis bills at maximum tyranny.

      Why does the GOP hate cannabis freedom so much?

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        In a word, “forfeiture.” GOP will do ANYTHING FOR MONEY, even if it means taking away your Healthcare, or selling the American government to a hostile foreign power like Russia. They stupid and greedy and dishonest.

    5. Julian says:

      On May 25, 2017, at 11:18 AM, Kelley, Rebecca wrote:

      Hi Julian,

      Gov. Scott outlined his recommended changes in remarks at a press conference yesterday, which you can read here: http://governor.vermont.gov/governor-scotts-blog/MessageonS22

      His official veto message provides a bit more detail as well, and that is available here: http://governor.vermont.gov/sites/scott/files/documents/Governor%20Phil%20Scott%27s%20S%2022%20Veto%20Message_05-24-17.pdf.

      While he vetoed S. 22, in his message to the legislature, Gov. Scott presents a path forward to “yes,” should Vermont lawmakers work with him to address the public safety and health concerns he outlined. The Governor was clear throughout the campaign and legislative session that certain public safety and health questions would need to be addressed on this issue. S. 22, as passed by the legislature, does not yet address those questions in his view, but the Governor has provided a path to do so in a new bill that he could work with the legislature on leading up to, and during the June 21 veto session.

      Let me know if you need anything else.

      Rebecca Kelley
      Communications Director
      Office of the Governor

    6. Julian says:

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thank you for your response. After reading the Governor’s conditions on passing S22 there are some simple compromises for each of his concerns.
      First and foremost, lets look at some stats on highway safety and impairment from cannabis consumption;

      The NHTSA cannot determine when someone is impaired when THC is found in the bloodstream, but they have determined through controlled peer reviewed studies that marijuana is not a major factor in vehicular deaths when isolated from prescription medications and alcohol:

      NORML does not condone driving under the influence of marijuana. With that said, the evidence from this study from the American Journal of Public Health shows that marijuana legalization can reduce traffic fatalities by reducing the consumption of opiates statewide;


      This peer reviewed study comports with the study from the Journal of the American Medical Association which shows a %25 reduction in the consumption of lethal synthetic opiates in states with legalized medical and recreational marijuana.


      The simplest compromise legislatively to satisfy the Governors concerns and pass S22 would be to either amend ongoing studies on traffic safety or pass a resolution to ensure continuing education for public students and federal employees, certify nurse practitioners to respond to calls from dui offenders calling for treatment and treat the issue as a public health issue.

      • Evening Bud says:

        Good job, Julian. At least it makes them explain publicly their bullshit decisions. I believe with the continuing aging of the electorate, that the day will come that these prohibitionist dinosaurs will all be voted out of office. The GOP had better get with the times . . .

    7. Julian says:


      The same solution for continuing drug education works for drug treatment and driver safety. Either add an amendment to issue funds for ongoing studies or pass a resolution. But dont block the bill. As the evidence provided testifies we could already be saving lives both from opiate abuse and traffic safety with a legal cannabis policy in Vermont.

      Please feel free to contact me for any questions. Thank you for your attention to this life-saving policy concern.

      Best Regards,


    8. Julian says:

      Heres the best scoop so far;


      $AM and Kevin Sabet were definitely behind this. Were better off convincing 21 House members with their own constituents than convincing this Governor.
      He and the Republican Caucus are ensuring a delay into next year.

    9. vickia 52 says:

      this is not a country of the people for the people or by the people

    10. Anonymous says:

      News out of the DEA, Chuck Rosenberg, this post may or may not have posted earlier. Also, Montana election is a sad travesty.

      News at the DEA:

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