Go, Vermont! On Wednesday, the state’s legislature passed a bill to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. While legal consumption of pot in the U.S. is nothing new, the way Vermont went about it is. The state is now the first in the nation to legalize the drug via its state legislature — and that’s newsworthy.
According to The Washington Post, Republican Governor Phil Scott says he is “comfortable“ with the plan. As such, it is likely he will sign it into law. The measure allows people aged 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana, as well as grow two small plants. It is worth noting that the bill does not create a system in which dispensaries can sell marijuana. This will need to be addressed if it passes.
“This is a big step forward for Vermont,” said Matt Simon, New England director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Vermonters should be proud that their state is becoming the first to do this legislatively, rather than by ballot initiative.”
The development occurs just one week after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era rules that allowed states to legalize marijuana without being targeted by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Despite the fact that 0 people have overdosed from cannabis and it remains safer than caffeine, pharmaceutical pills, and even selfies, the plant remains classified as a Schedule 1 drug (the same category as dangerous drugs, including heroin and ecstasy).
The majority of Americans are not ignorant of this. In fact, consumer support of marijuana is at an all-time high. According to an October 2017 Gallup poll, 64 percent of US citizens now support legalizing cannabis nationwide. Americans are changing their minds for several reasons. To begin with, components of the cannabis plant (CBD) have been proven to kill cancer cells. Studies also suggest it can be a beneficial aid for pain relief, Parkinson’s, arthritis, anxiety, depression, and other conditions.
Efforts to clamp down on the marijuana industry are also impeded by the fact that the U.S. Cancer Institute lists CBD oil as a cancer therapy on its website. Don’t believe us? Check it out here. The site notes: “Cannabinoids may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment.” It goes on to state that cannabinoids (CBD) are anti-inflammatory, block cell growth, prevent the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors, propel antiviral activity, and relieve muscle spasms.
It is because the majority of the populace no longer views cannabis as a threat that other states will likely follow Vermont’s example by the end of the year. Bills are already scheduled to be introduced in Rhode Island and Connecticut. And in New Jersey, Governor-elect Phil Murphy has pledged to sign similar legislation. There are rumors legislature could be drafted by early spring.
Said Mason Tvert, who helped lead efforts to legalize cannabis in several locations:
“States are not sitting back and waiting for the federal government to change laws,” he said. “Vermont could very well be the first state in history to legalize through the legislature, but not the last to do it this year.”
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