The Vermont legislature’s crossover deadline for bills to emerge from committee came and went Friday with no sign of the House’s long-awaited marijuana legalization bill.
The missed deadline doesn’t mean the bill is dead, though it does indicate a lack of vigorous support in the House.
House and Senate leaders agreed Friday to give the bill a one-week extension to emerge from the House Judiciary Committee while House leaders continue to count floor votes.
“As long as it’s voted out by next Friday, we’ll take it,” Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Sears (D-Bennington) said.
The bill would legalize possession of up to an ounce of pot, but would not allow for Colorado-style marijuana stores or lounges. The legislation would result in a law similar to Washington, D.C.’s.
The House Judiciary Committee completed work on the bill weeks ago and had been scheduled to vote it out Wednesday, but abruptly removed that vote from its schedule.
That’s apparently because House leaders couldn’t count on it passing the full House and were reluctant to advance a bill that would fail. As they took stock of where members stood, a fair number declined to commit, sources said.
Earlier in the week, House Judiciary Committee vice chair Chip Conquest (D-Newbury) said of votes among House members, “I know they’re counting them and I know it’s close.”
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Illustration: Luke Eastman