Just hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a repeal on state protections for legal marijuana, Vermont passed a bill to legalize recreational weed anyway.
The Vermont House voted 81-63 in favor of the bill, which will allow anyone over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and grow up to six plants at home. The bill, however, does not create a legal market for marijuana, and doesn’t impose any taxes.
The bill still needs to be signed by Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott, but he’s already said that he’s “comfortable” with the bill, making it a near guarantee. Scott had vetoed a previous version of the same legislation last year.
If everything goes according to plan, it’ll make Vermont the first state to legalize recreational pot through its legislature, as opposed to making a decision via a state-wide ballot.
It also signals the beginning of what will probably be a long and weird legal quagmire between the Department of Justice and the states that are determined to legalize pot. It’s still difficult to say at this point just how Sessions’ memo will affect individual states. Marijuana is illegal federally, but under Obama-era policy states were given agency over policing pot — paving the way for legalization in nine states and the District of Columbia. That could all change with Sessions’ new plan, which encourages federal prosecutors in individual states to crack down on marijuana-related offenses as they see fit.
Still, it doesn’t appear that states like Vermont will be deterred.
“Apparently, he’s more troubled by an 80-year-old using medical marijuana to treat a terminal health condition than he is by coordinating election strategy with Russians,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe in a statement, following the announcement of Sessions’ plan.