Vermont Becomes Ninth State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

January 22, 2018, 11:19 PM UTC

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed the state’s recreational marijuana bill into law on Monday with “mixed emotions.”

The law will allow people 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate two plants, according to The Hill.

When the law takes effect on July 1, Vermont will be the ninth state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to legalize recreational marijuana. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Nevada all permit recreational marijuana sales while Massachusetts and Maine will do so later this year.

Vermont’s law was the first recreational marijuana law to be passed by a state legislature. Unlike other states that legalized recreational marijuana, Vermont does not have a system of voter referendums.

Vermont’s legalization of the drug comes at a crossroads in the legalization push with California, on Jan. 1, becoming the largest state to allow recreational pot sales. Support among Americans for recreational marijuana legalization is at an all time high with 61% favoring legalization, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October 2017 and released this month.

More independents and Democrats support legalization (65% and nearly 70% respectively), than Republicans (43%).

Though some Republican state lawmakers have endorsed recreational marijuana (and some House members), President Donald Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions opposes legalization on the federal level. Recreational pot vendors can therefore be prosecuted under federal law, even if permitted to sell under state law.

Politicians in favor of decriminalizing marijuana cite not only medicinal uses, but also criminal justice reform.