As legislators depart for their summer break, in two US states that do not have the ability to pass laws by popular vote, draft laws (‘bills’) for cannabis legalisation have yet to win approval.
In Vermont, House Bill S.22 proposed a model similar to that adopted in Washington DC. Sale of cannabis would not be permitted, but it would be legal to possess and use a small amount (1 oz, 28 g of cannabis herb or 5 g of cannabis resin) and to cultivate plants screened from public view (two mature and four immature per ‘dwelling unit’). As the House preferred home growing and the state Senate preferred a system of commercial retail, this bill was a compromise; it established a Marijuana Regulatory Commission, which would take six months to elaborate a framework for possible retail sale. The bill was approved by the state Senate in April and by the House in May. However, at the end of May the state governor vetoed the bill, sending it back for a rewrite as he considered that it lacked adequate safety measures. There was thepossibility that it could be addressed in a special session in July, but this did not happen.
In Delaware, House Bill 110 proposed a model similar to that adopted in the state of Washington. Its stated aims included promoting individual freedom, raising revenue, and allowing law enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes. To protect public health, it would regulate cannabis like alcohol (licensed sales, age limits, product testing). It would allow possession of up to 1 oz (28 g) of cannabis herb, and create a system of licensing for shops to sell it, but home growing would not be allowed. It was put forward in March and approved by committee in May, but as the bill introduced new criminal penalties, it required a two-thirds vote in both houses of the General Assembly to pass. This did not seem likely, and by the beginning of July, the bill was not advanced for a full vote. However, the legislature created a task force that would consider key concerns such as impaired driving and consumer safety, and this should report back by January 2018 for the next session of the General Assembly.
According to SAMHSA NSDUH studies, Vermont has one of the highest rates of cannabis use out of all the states, with 20.8 % of adults reporting use in the last year. Delaware reported a considerably lower rate, with 13.1 %. For comparison, the range across the 50 states is 8.6–23.9 %.