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After a complicated marijuana legalization bill failed in 2016, a new bill would legalize up to 1 ounce of marijuana and allow Vermonters to grow several plants for personal use. The new bill is simpler, by design.
AKI SOGA/FREE PRESS

MONTPELIER – The Vermont House of Representatives has voted to approve a marijuana legalization bill in a debate that stretched late into the night Tuesday.

The bill H.170, which passed by a vote of 74-68, would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and several plants without creating a full-scale regulated market. Members of the House rejected an amendment that would have created a regulated marijuana market, which is the approach favored in the state Senate.

The House bill had been discussed for months but had been stalling in committee discussion until Tuesday.

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A final vote in the House of Representatives is expected sometime Wednesday, but the bill has a narrow path to passage before this week’s expected adjournment.

Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, said he and the Senate continue to disagree with the House’s approach, so any differences would need to be worked out in a committee of conference on a different drug bill, H.167.

“I don’t support legalization without a retail source,” Sears said. He said it’s possible that the House and Senate could return in January 2018 to address the marijuana question again.

“My question to the House would be, why did you wait until the last week of the session to pass your legalization bill?” Sears said.

Contact April McCullum at 802-660-1863 or amccullum@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @April_McCullum. 
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