Vermont became the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana and the first to do so by legislation on Monday after Phil Scott signed the bill [text, PDF] passed earlier this month.
The law legalized possession of marijuana equal to one ounce or less, two mature plants, or four immature plants for those 21 years and older. The law maintains several safeguards and limitations for users, and provides harsher punishment criminal marijuana related matters. Scott expressed these differences in the official press release [text]:
While this legislation decriminalizes, for adults 21 and older, personal possession of no more than 1 ounce, and cultivation of two mature plants on their private property, marijuana remains a controlled substance in Vermont and its sale is prohibited. Also, consumption of marijuana in public places is prohibited. Consumption of marijuana by operators and passengers in a motor vehicle is prohibited. Schools, employers, municipalities and landlords are also empowered to adopt policies and ordinances further restricting the cultivation and use.
Notable penalties related to marijuana use include using while in a car with a child present, growing at a facility that serves children, and harsher criminal and civil penalties for selling or enabling the consumption of marijuana by someone under 21.
The eight other states that legalized recreation-use marijuana [MPP report] did so via ballot initiative. Vermont’s Marijuana Policy Project celebrated this legislative milestone and pledged to continue urging for a more regulated production and sale system.