Vermont is one of the states that has been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic during the past several years. But its legislature is moving ahead with a more laissez-faire drug policy nonetheless. Governing Magazine reports:
Vermont’s Legislature has become the first in the nation to approve a recreational marijuana legalization bill.
Vermont’s bill, which would legalize small amounts of marijuana possession in 2018 and anticipate the possibility of a taxed and regulated legal marijuana market, was approved by the Vermont House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 79-66. The bill has already been passed by the Senate and will go directly to Gov. Phil Scott.
Other states have legalized marijuana following a voter referendum, but no state has yet legalized marijuana solely through the legislative process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legalization advocates said bills were pending in other state legislatures.
It’s not clear yet whether the Governor will sign the bill. What is clear is that the nationwide momentum for marijuana legalization appears to be gathering, apparently unaffected by the opioid crisis that has led some drug libertarians to re-examine their view about the social consequences of easily accessible mind-altering substances.
We have said before that de-criminalizing marijuana in some form is probably the worst policy, except for all the others—provided that the drug remains heavily regulated and relatively pricey. Unfortunately, many states, like California, are moving forward with a much more relaxed form of legalization, where potent weed will be available for cheap, promoting a windfall for the industry at the expense of a small number of heavy users.
If the Vermont measure passes, hopefully the state takes a more conservative approach. But we’re not counting on it.