Vermont Just Became the First State To Legalize Pot Through Its Legislature

People 21 and over may grow and consume small amounts, but they still can’t sell it.

A man rolls a joint.Mark Allen Johnson/ZUMA Press

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

The state of Vermont legalized the recreational use of marijuana on Monday, making it the ninth state to do so, and the first since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced changes to the Department of Justice’s approach to prosecuting marijuana cases in states where the drug is legal. But Vermont’s move to legalize pot made history in another way: It was the first state to legalize the drug through its legislature, instead of by ballot initiative.

The bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, decriminalizes possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and private consumption by adults 21 and older. “This is a significant signal to other legislative bodies around the country that legislatures can act in the interest of the general population without some of the fear that there will be electoral retribution,” Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, a Democrat, noted in an interview with the Huffington Post. Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, talked up the fact that the bill had made it past a Republican governor. “It’s truly a bipartisan effort, and at the end of the day, opposition to prohibition is a bipartisan issue,” he told Rolling Stone.

California recently became the sixth state to begin licensing businesses to sell marijuana for recreational use. Vermont’s new law stops short of legalizing pot sales, however. Gov. Scott said he would not sign a law to establish a legal marijuana market until the legislature addressed questions about driver safety and the prevention of marijuana consumption by children and young adults.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend