Ninth US state legalises marijuana
Ninth US state legalises marijuana
Vermont has become the ninth US state to legalise recreational marijuana use when Republican Governor Phil Scott signed a bill passed by the legislature earlier this month.

The law legalises possession of up to an ounce of the drug, two mature plants and up to four immature plants by people 21 and older beginning on July 1. It does not legalise trade in the drug.

"Today, with mixed emotions, I have signed H. 511," Scott said in a statement on Monday, referring to the measure by its legislative number.

He noted that he had vetoed an earlier version of the bill that would have opened up sales of the drug, saying that a state commission would have time for further study before allowing a retail trade in recreational pot.

Neighbouring Massachusetts, nearby Maine and six other states have legalised marijuana use as a result of voter initiatives.

New Hampshire's House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a similar bill to legalise recreational marijuana use. That state's governor, Republican Chris Sununu, has said he opposes legalisation.

Vermont is the first state to take this step by an act of the legislature, rather than as a ballot initiative.

"This is a great step forward for the state and the whole region," Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project said in a statement.

"Responsible adults will soon have the freedom to enjoy a safer option legally, and law enforcement will be free to concentrate on serious crimes with actual victims."

"I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children," Scott said.