Vermont governor rejects recreational pot bill

The governor of Vermont has rejected a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in his state.

Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, told reporters he was not satisfied that the bill adequately protected public safety. He said he was particularly worried about the threat of stoned drivers and about children getting access to pot.

The governor said he was returning the bill to the legislature.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational pot. Vermont would have been the first to do it by passing a law rather than a ballot measure.

Medical marijuana is already legal in Vermont. The bill would have opened a retail market for recreational marijuana in Vermont beginning in July 2018.

Marijuana sales in Vermont could have totaled $179 million by 2025 if the state had legalized recreational pot, according to estimates from New Frontier, a company that analyzes the marijuana industry.

Of the eight states where recreational pot is legal, half — Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska — already have retail markets, meaning pot can be bought at dispensaries by customers 21 or older.

The other four states — California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — only legalized recreational marijuana in November, and state and local regulators haven’t yet established how the drug will be sold and taxed.

It typically takes more than year from legalization to actual sales in dispensaries.

New Frontier forecasts that marijuana sales nationwide will hit $24.1 billion by 2025, dominated by California, where medical marijuana is already a multi-billion-dollar industry.