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Vermont Becomes the Ninth State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Despite pressure from opponents to veto the legislation Gov. Phil Scott has signed into law a bill that will legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana

Vermont becomes the first state to legislatively enact a law permitting recreational marijuana, which bolsters advocates for similar legislation in New Hampshire.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed a bill Tuesday legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in his state. The bill will allow Vermonters to legally carry up to 1 oz. of pot and have two mature plants or four immature plants.

The governor emphasized in a letter to lawmakers that it is his personal belied "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". Legislators in Vermont spent much of a year ago hammering out compromises on a legalization package, only to have Scott veto the bill in May.

"After more than 15 years of hard work by MPP and our allies in the state, adults in Vermont no longer need to fear being fined or criminalized for low-level marijuana possession and cultivation", said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

The law will go into effect on July 1.

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Vermont joins eight other states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, though the statute here is the first to arrive by way of the Legislature, as opposed to citizen referenda.

Repealing prohibition also allows state law enforcers to focus their time and limited resources on more pressing issues than busting people for smoking a joint. Unlike some reports, this bill will not legalize marijuana sales. Scott vetoed an earlier version of it.

Scott said last week he was declining to hold a bill signing ceremony because "some people don't feel that this is a momentous occasion".

The bill passed both chambers of the Vermont Legislature this month.

At least seven other states, including NY and New Hampshire, were set to debate marijuana legalization later this year. Scott said in a statement Monday that he signed "with mixed emotions".

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