Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Monday legalized the possession of marijuana by ratifying House bill 511. The act eliminates penalties for possession of the substance in a limited amount for people aged 21 and above. With this, Vermont became the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana use.

After legalizing the possession of marijuana, Gov. Scott said in a statement: “Today, with mixed emotions, I have signed H. 511. As I said when I vetoed S. 22 (An act relating to eliminating penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 years of age and older) in May, 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.”

Prior to its legalization, possession of marijuana was considered as a civil offense rather than a criminal offense in Vermont.

Marijuana legalized in Vermont A worker looks through a bag of marijuana that will be used to make marijuana-infused chocolate edibles at Kiva Confections on Jan. 16, 2018, in Oakland, California. Photo: getty

Vermont is the third northeastern state in the region along with Massachusetts and Maine to assent recreational use of the substance. Earlier, the use of marijuana was restricted only to medicinal purposes.

In the past, voters in Vermont despaired prohibition laws pertaining to the recreational use of the substance. In a poll conducted in 2016, 56 percent voters opted for a referendum when asked about the best process of making the decision in the legalization of marijuana, however, amendment of marijuana reforms through a referendum would require an amendment to the state constitution where voters aren't allowed to change the laws of the state. That can only be attained through the legislature.

The legislation on legalizing recreational marijuana makes tremendous strides in use of the substance for people of 21 and above, however, it comes with a few restrictions. The statement issued by the Gov. Scott said while the use of the substance is legalized, it should be possessed in moderation. Possession of no more than one ounce and cultivation of plants should be restricted to no more than two plants. Sale and consumption of marijuana in public places is also prohibited.

The statement further adds: “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.” 

Gov. Scott also said that though he expressed reservations for the sale of marijuana in terms of earning profits, there should be a comprehensive plan before he would consider the implementation of commercial “ tax and regulate” system for an adult marijuana market.

 “It is important for the General Assembly to know that – until we have a workable plan to address each of these concerns – I will veto any additional effort along these lines, which manages to reach my desk,” he added.