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Gov. Phil Scott speaks to reporters on June 22, 2017, the day after a legal marijuana compromise between Scott and lawmakers failed to pass the House of Representatives.
APRIL MCCULLUM/FREE PRESS

 

MONTPELIER – The day after a legal marijuana bill stalled in the Vermont House of Representatives, Gov. Phil Scott said he will now create his own commission to study marijuana and public safety. 

“We need to address the issue of highway impairment,” Scott told reporters at a Montpelier news conference. “It’s coming to us. We can’t put our heads in the sand. It’s here, and we need to deal with it.”

Scott vetoed Vermont’s marijuana legalization bill this year, but worked with lawmakers to broach a compromise that came up at a veto session Wednesday. 

More: VT House Republicans block marijuana legalization bill

The bill faltered in the House of Representatives when a majority of Republican members and several others declined to suspend rules to expedite debate.

Lawmakers are expected to consider the issue again when they return for a normal session in January.

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Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, explains details of the compromise marijuana legalization bill at the Statehouse in Montpelier on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS)

Scott has been ambivalent about marijuana legalization. He was willing to sign the new bill but made no personal effort to clear the way for it to pass.

“I didn’t encourage them, I didn’t twist any arms,” Scott said of House Republicans. “This is a personal decision that they had to make.”

The bill would have legalized small amounts of marijuana possession in July 2018 and created a commission to study and propose a regulated marijuana market.

Scott said he would announce his commission in the coming weeks, and that the group would provide recommendations to the Legislature. He envisions a group that would focus on highway safety and protecting children before taking up the issue of legal marijuana regulation.

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