Pushing ahead despite the Trump administration opening the door to a crackdown, Vermont has recently become the ninth state to legalise marijuana.
In signing a bill that is allowing adults to grow and possess cannabis, Phil Scott, a Republican Governor, said that he overcame “mixed emotions” that included his fears about a profit-driven commercial industry of marijuana. Not like any other states that have already legalised the use of cannabis, the law does not allow it for legal sales.
Mr Scott stated: “I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children.”
Mr Scott, with his signature, added the more than 600,000 residents of Vermont to the increasing roster of Americans who live in areas that allow the use of recreational marijuana – a swathe of the country that is home to almost 70 million people. Various other states allow the use of medical marijuana.
Of all the states that have proposed to allow recreational use, Vermont is the first to initiate the change through its legislature instead of a direct vote of the people.
Vermont continued despite a recent federal change that could expose states who are permitting the use of marijuana to legal penalties.
Earlier this month, Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, announced that the Department of Justice would discard guidelines from the time of Obama that deferred the issue to states as long as they had established sturdy regulations on burgeoning pot markets.
The said move spurred accusations of betrayal and anger from states that have already legalised recreational cannabis, with some elected officials warning that the federal government was thwarting the will of votes.
In a statement that was praising the signature of Mr Scott, the pro-legalisation Drug Policy alliance pushed other states to follow the lead of Vermont and resist to be cowed by federal pressure.
In a statement, the executive director of the organisation, Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, stated: “Vermont is standing up to the regressive, harmful policies coming out of Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department.
“Other states and policymakers should follow suit, and keep pressing for marijuana reforms that are supported by a vast majority of the public”.