A total of eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. That left-leaning Vermont is poised to join them is hardly a surprise.
But unlike the other states, which all legalized pot through ballot measures, Vermont lawmakers are taking the lead.
On Wednesday, the state Legislature became the first in the United States to approve a bill legalizing recreational marijuana. Republican Gov. Phil Scott has indicated he will soon sign the measure into law.
The move by lawmakers shows how far the legalization movement has come. Ballot measures allow lawmakers to hide their own opinions on the issue. Bills force them to take a public stance and assume the political risks.
Those risks have diminished as public support for legal pot has grown. A Gallup poll in October found that 64% of Americans support making marijuana legal.
Other state legislatures could soon follow Vermont’s example. Bills are scheduled to be introduced in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
And in New Jersey, Democratic Gov.-elect Phil Murphy has pledged to sign such legislation. Leaders of the Democratic-controlled Legislature there have said a measure could be passed by