Vermont is underway to be the first state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana through the legislative process. If the law passes, Vermont residents ages 21 and older would legally be able to purchase and use marijuana, starting in 2018.
Marijuana purchases would be taxed at a rate of 25-percent. Language in the law includes that home cultivation would still be prohibited. Sales of edibles made with marijuana extract would also be banned, according to Reuters. Lawmakers only have until the end of May to make and act on a decision.
Senator Jeanette White, a sponsor of the bill, says, “It makes for a much more thoughtful and measured approach. We got to work out the details, we got to ask the questions first and put the whole infrastructure in place before it happens.”
It is anticipated that if Vermont legalizes marijuana through the state legislature that more states will follow. This will put pressure on the federal government to end marijuana prohibition on a national level.
Recent polls from just last month reveal that 55-percent of Vermont residents support legalization. Of 895 voters polled, only 32-percent are opposed to marijuana legalization. The polls suggest that 1 in 8 Vermont residents are in support of legalization.
Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark says, “If it’s one in eight, to me that tells me that we need to change, that society for the most part is accepting it. If 12 or 13 percent of the population is not being open with law enforcement when we’re out trying to investigate serious crimes, then that is holding us back from working with our communities.”
Some supporters worry that the bill will catch another snag when it hits the House of Representatives as the Republicans are expected to raise concerns that legalization is not a good idea. Vermont Governor, Peter Shumlin, has asked for the bill to be passed prior to the end of the legislative session, which ends in May.