Scott said that after reviewing the bill, he made a decision to send it back to the Legislature because he feels it does not sufficiently address his concerns about driving safety, youth access and more.
Scott is calling for more aggressive penalties for smoking pot while driving or using it in the presence of children.
Senate Bill 22 would have legalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, and the personal cultivation of up to two mature plants (four immature), for those 21 and older. Vermont would have been the first state to legalize marijuana by vote of a state legislative body.
Of the eight states and the District of Columbia that have legalized recreational marijuana, two - MA and ME - are nearby, while Canada, to Vermont's north, is considering legalization.
Gov. Phil Scott became the first governor in the country to veto a bill that would legalize marijuana.
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"It's unfortunate that the governor chose to put his ideas on the table after adjournment, rather than work with the Legislature over the course of this session to include his ideas into the bill during the legislative session", Johnson said.
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Upmeyer said she has worked with Reynolds on many policy initiatives and is confident in Reynolds' ability. Senate Democratic Leader Rob Hogg said he is eager to see whether Reynolds does things differently.
Despite the illegality of its recreational use, the Vermont Department of Health found that the state has among the "highest prevalence of marijuana use" across all age groups, and the second highest of all states among those age 12 to 25.
"I am not philosophically opposed to ending the prohibition on marijuana, and I recognize there is a clear societal shift in that direction", Scott told reporters.
"I do not see many of our members changing their minds on supporting marijuana legalization", he said. I am, however, offering a path forward that takes a much more thorough look at what public health, safety and education policies are needed before Vermont moves toward a regulatory and revenue system for an adult-use marijuana market. Both states are now developing mechanisms to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana. He says the panel should have a year before making recommendations.
Scott believes the Legislature could satisfactorily revise the bill as soon as next month, when lawmakers are expected to return for a veto session related to a showdown over the state budget.
Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman criticized Scott's veto. After sitting on it for most of the session and almost burying it in committee, the House narrowly passed the thing, doing so at such a later hour that the Senate had to attach its version as an amendment to another bill.
"I want to reiterate that we can all work together on this issue in a thoughtful and responsible way", the governor said at his weekly news conference in Montpelier.
The Vermont chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics applauded the governor's decision. On one hand I see the Vermont effort as demonstrating the progress that has been made in Vermont on the issue, but on the other hand I am leery of the Governor's position that he willing to work with the Legislature to get the job done.