Vermont Just Legalized Marijuana In Response To Jeff Sessions
Vermont passed a bill on Thursday night to legalize recreational possession of marijuana in what can only be described a heroic act of rebellion. The move came just hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a Department of Justice policy on legal marijuana.
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The bill allows adults over the age of 21 to grow and possess small amounts of legal marijuana, beginning in July.
While the state Senate still needs to approve the measure, Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) has already declared that he will sign the bill.
According to the Burlington Free Press, House members rejected an effort led by Republicans to delay voting on the bill due to reports that Jeff Sessions planned to rescind the Obama-era Justice Department policy on states legalizing marijuana.
The Marijuana Policy Project, the largest marijuana policy reform group in the US, praised the vote in a statement, calling it an “important step.”
“Vermont is poised to make history by becoming the first state to legalize marijuana cultivation and possession legislatively, rather than by ballot initiative,” Matt Simon, New England policy director for the group, said. “We applaud lawmakers for heeding the calls of their constituents and taking this important step toward treating marijuana more like alcohol.”
One the bill is officially signed, Vermont will become the ninth state to make recreational marijuana legal for adults and the first state to legalize marijuana via its state legislature.
Marijuana advocates are rejoicing at Vermont’s actions as the vote came only hours after Sessions delivered the shocking news on Thursday. Rescinding the policy would result in federal authorities being able to interfere in matters relating to marijuana in states where it is legal. Though it remains unclear what shape the repercussions of Session’s announcement will take, they do not bode well for the cannabis industry.
Sessions was slammed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle following the announcement.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) took to the Senate floor to assert that Sessions had told him before his confirmation as attorney general that he didn’t plan to try to reverse his state’s policies legalizing marijuana.
Gardner, who leads the Senate GOP campaign arm, threatened to block all Justice Department Nominees until Sessions “lives up to the commitment that he made to me.”
Vermont’s vote is a clear act of defiance and proof that states can and should stand up to Sessions and the federal government to protect their rights.