Vermont Governor Phil Scott Vetoes Marijuana Legalization

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 thoughts

  1. Governor Scott did not want to be the first politician to sign a marijuana legalization bill. That was a short-sighted move. Maine and Massachusetts will have legal marijuana for sale for adults in just over a year and their neighbor to the north, Canada, will have marijuana for sale to adults in just over a year. However Scott felt compelled to listen to cops and not his constituents. This veto today as craven as it was did nothing but postpone the inevitable.

    1. He’s a GOP governor–what can I say. I just read an article that the GOP governor in Nevada is contemplating vetoing the proposal to start opening up recreational dispensaries on the Las Vegas strip. To all you pot advocates and pot tokers out there who still support the GOP . . . I can only shake my head.

      1. Republicans are red.
        Democrats are blue.
        Neither of them give a f**k about you!

        Unfortunately neither major party give a flying hoot about us. Hopefully a viable and someone that is not cooky in the Libertarian party rises up in four years so we can have our legal pot and our rights and freedoms too.

      2. What Libertarians? You mean like Senators Flake and Paul that voted for Sessions as AG? The only Libertarian on the side of marijuana policy reform is Representative Rohrabacher-CA.

      3. @ “Me,”
        Yeah, except for the fact that the Republicans are much, much worse than the Democrats on marijuana legalization. And now, with Trump and Sessions ramping up the drug war again, we’re in deep shit, thanks in part to you.

        Libertarians are Trump enablers. You don’t get to blame the Democrats anymore — the Democrats voted Democratic. Hell, I’m Green Party, and was still rational enough to vote for Hillary.

        You sure fucked things up real good this time.

      4. Hilary would have destroyed our simple freedoms. Under her the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th amendments would have taken huge blows. I could not have a good conscience to vote for that lying c*nt ever. It’s too bad she didn’t choke on her water.

      5. @the douche that calls himself “Me”:
        Speakin of huge blows, why dontcha pull that orange sausage outta yer mouth and read what Trump is doing to the Cole memos Hillary would have kept?

        Do you have any idea how out of touch with reality you are? Its ok… step out of that bubble of denial… promise we wont make fun of you, we’ll applaud you!

  2. Like I said, done with Vermont. I do not think a compromise will be reached, either, and am not even going to bother reading the cheers from supporters in news articles. I also predict a Sessions crackdown at least by the end of July if not sooner. PD Frank is right, but the inevitable, at least for Vermont, could take a very, very long time. Done with them. Clueless Vermont strikes out yet again. Typical. Supporters are probably commending the governor, and the marijuana citations WILL continue as before. Done with Vermont. My fight is now in defense of the states that have legalized. I will be back on later. I am sorry to be so negative about it, but this truly, truly pisses me off. Common sense was right in front of the man’s face, as was the FUTURE, the inevitable future, as Frank pointed out above, but Scott just would not do it. Way to go, yet again, Vermont. As soon as I can, I am moving to states that have legalized and embraced the future. And forgetting about nightmares like this. That is all for now.

    1. What’s really fun is how in Georgia they’ll throw you in a cage for 12 hours before you can make a phone call to bond out.

      After this you have a year long court session where you either go to jail for about 180 days or go on probation for a year.

      Good luck with finding jobs in the meantime. That is, good jobs.

      Oh this is only for simple possession. Dealing is dealt with (pun intended) on a much harsher note.

      Fun times in the deep South. /s.

  3. ?

    Science News
    from research organizations

    Cannabis reverses aging processes in the brain, study suggests

    Researchers restore the memory performance of Methuselah mice to a juvenile stage

    May 8, 2017
    University of Bonn
    Memory performance decreases with increasing age. Cannabis can reverse these ageing processes in the brain. This was shown in mice by scientists at the University of Bonn with their colleagues at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). Old animals were able to regress to the state of two-month-old mice with a prolonged low-dose treatment with a cannabis active ingredient. This opens up new options, for instance, when it comes to treating dementia.

  4. So I called Governor Scotts office and spoke with Ellen and asked her what the “conditions are that Governor Scott is looking for in order to approve a revised marijuana legalization bill?”
    Ellen said Rebecca Kelley is their Communications Director in order to get a press statement and “she’s not in the office right now.” How fortunate.
    So here’s her email;

    Lets all give Rebecca a polite call and ask her the same question until she shows up back in the Governors office.

  5. Prohibition is not going quietly into the night. It is sad that in many places the law enforcement is addicted to persecuting those who dare observe their human right to ingest marijuana, but that is the case here in Vermont. It is changing, but it is not over and we are going to have to keep demanding our rights in spite of those seeking to keep the prohibition intact.

  6. I’ve read eight stories about the veto, and none of them addressed the specific revisions the Gov. is looking for. Has he stated them or is this shoddy journalism?

    1. From the Gov’s message posted on his site, the closest he gets to anything concrete is the following:

      “More specifically – as I have said repeatedly throughout the campaign and this session – we should know how we will detect and measure impairment on our roadways, fund and implement additional substance abuse prevention education, keep our children safe and penalize those who do not, and measure how legalization impacts the mental health and substance abuse issues our communities are already facing.

      From my vantage point, S.22 does not yet adequately address these questions.”

      1. So amend the bill to use fairly taxed revenue from legalization to fund the NHSA and AAA to conduct another peer reviewed controlled study in Vermont to monitor impairment of marijuana involving accidents alcohol and prescription pills seperately.
        Then add a provision for certified opiate and drug education.
        A study should be the easiest part. Here in Texas we are trying to pass HCR 149 to study marijuana. These Resolutions do not require legislative schedules to be implemented and could be introduced as seperate legislation.
        This is a matter of not giving up, but looking at the roll call and contacting these House members that said no and making them say yes. And to the ones who authored the bills start cracking out these amendments! Times a wastin! You only have about a month left in the legislative session!

  7. That was a dick move. Now what the hell are you gonna do, Governor? Wait until Canada has implemented, then say Vermont has to legalize to prevent cross-border smuggling? That is a dumb thing, really dumb to wait that long. You need to keep things moving. Make essentially some decent revisions that the cannabis community want, and get it rolling again. Then everyone will be rolling–rolling in dough, rolling joints! Just get legalization done before then end of calendar 2018! No excuses!


    I told you no excuses.

  8. 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.

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

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

    Why does the GOP hate cannabis freedom so much?

    1. 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.

  11. 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:

    His official veto message provides a bit more detail as well, and that is available here:

    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

  12. 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.

    1. 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 . . .


    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,


    1. Help us take it back. Have you tried clicking on the links, and sending a letter?

  14. Well no wonder! Vermont doesnt have a NORML Chapter!

    And the Governor is up for reelection next year!

    Who is this Mia Feroleto?

    Would she be interested in creating a NORML chapter? Id ask but this looks like an exclusive women’s grow-op club. Maybe thats the problem? Vermont needs a NORML Chapter to be more inclusive? ..And shove the voters down Scotts throat…

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