For the first time, a U.S. state has legalized marijuana with the stroke of a pen, not a vote at the ballot box.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) on Monday signed into law House Bill 511, which legalizes the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and removes penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. The legislation says nothing about creating a state market for recreational weed, however. The new law will go into effect in July.
“Today, with mixed emotions, I have signed H. 511,” said Scott in a statement addressed to the state’s General Assembly. “I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children.”
With Scott’s signature, Vermont will join eight other legal-weed states, as well as Washington, D.C., in a growing movement away from federal law, which still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, alongside heroin and LSD. Vermont legalized medical marijuana in 2004, and is currently among nearly 30 states, plus the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, with such programs in place.