Cannabis legalization stalls in New England

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After making progress on marijuana reform, the legalization movement has stalled in two New England states, writes Calvin Hughes.

Cannabis became legal in Vermont last July, but state lawmakers did not put a regulated market for marijuana in place at that time. So while adults in Vermont can possess, grow and consume cannabis, they can't buy it legally.

Things seemed poised to change recently when the state senate passed a bill that would create a taxed a regulated market for the sale of cannabis products. But the House vote on the bill has since been delayed until next January, meaning that Vermonters shouldn't expect to be buying legal weed anytime soon.

One of Vermont's biggest cannabis proponents, Senator Dick Sears (D), expressed disappointment over the delays, saying that a regulated market place was necessary in order to protect consumers.

"We need to get a tax and regulated system as soon as possible, not necessarily for the money, but to at least regulate what people are using for a drug," Sears said.

A similar bill in neighboring New Hampshire has also been delayed until early next year.

The New Hampshire House recently passed a measure to legalize recreational cannabis, but the Senate has poured cold water on the idea by delaying a vote on the bill.

"I think there's a lot of work that needs to be done before we even begin to consider legalizing marijuana," said Senator Sharon Carson (R) - a member of the Judiciary Committee member who also opposes legalization.

Even if it does eventually get a vote, the outlook for the bill is bleak. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R) has vowed to veto the bill, which did not pass the House with enough votes to override Sununu's move to kill it.

If the bill does eventually pass it would allow adults 21 or older to posses up to one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants in their home. It would also establish a regulated market for the sale of cannabis products.

Vermont and New Hampshire aren't the only states on the East Coast that are struggling with cannabis legalization. Both New Jersey and New York previously appeared poised to legalize the substance for adult use this year. Now, however, it seems unlikely that either state will be able to push the new policy ahead.

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