The Vermont senate on Tuesday voted 20-7 to approve legislation that protects medical marijuana users from arrest. The bill, previously approved by the state house, now goes to Gov. James Douglas, a Republican, for his consideration. The legislation would allow adults suffering from AIDS, cancer, or multiple sclerosis to grow, possess, and use a limited amount of marijuana to treat the debilitating symptoms of their diseases. Patients would be allowed to grow up to three marijuana plants under the bill's provisions. Douglas reportedly has misgivings about the legislation, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, and will likely face pressure from the White House to veto the bill.
If Douglas signs the bill or allows it to pass into law without his signature, Vermont would become only the second state after Hawaii to have enacted medical marijuana laws through the state legislature, according to MPP. Seven other states--Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington--also allow medical marijuana use, but those laws were approved by state voters as ballot initiatives. A Maryland law that took effect in 2003 reduces penalties for users of medicinal marijuana but doesn't wholly eliminate the statewide ban on the drug.