While Christie remains vehemently opposed to legalizing marijuana, Cammarano said now is the time to build support for marijuana legalization among state lawmakers as well as the public, "so next year we are in potions to have the legislation passed and signed into law".
The House voted on Wednesday to approve the bill and send it to the Senate.
The bill now goes to Republican Governor Phil Scott, who has expressed reservations about it.
"There is strong public support for ending marijuana prohibition in DE, and that was reflected in the committee vote", said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project.
HB 110 would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, including no more than five grams of marijuana concentrate. The bill also creates a study commission to develop a retail marijuana scheme with regulations and taxes similar to the programs already enacted states that have legalized recreational marijuana. The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
After the vote, Gov. Chris Sununu said he'll sign the bill into law. He said legalization could reverse that progress. "A lot of us have kids. I do". "With Massachusetts and Maine starting up in 2018, I think we need to continue this conversation".
If approved by the governor, Vermont's legal pot laws would take effect in July 2018. The nine-member commission would be directed to take into consideration public safety and health, she said, calling that an important factor in winning her support.
The bill will now head to the full House for a vote. Those measures are the basis of another bill, H.170, that the House passed last week on a 75-71 vote after sitting on it for weeks while Democratic leaders worked to shore up the vote count. Rep. Laura Sibilia (I-Dover) voted nay on the first bill but said yes to Wednesday's version.
"In fact, the overwhelming majority of marijuana users never try other illicit substances", she said.
Supporters of the bill said it would help reduce the black market for marijuana, and the associated crime that comes with it, while raising revenue for the state.
An antsy Senate, where legalization has wider support, responded by sending over a revised version last week as an amendment to another bill.
Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana in November 2012.
Benning says keeping prohibition in place in Vermont will lead to the same risky phenomenon that he and his neighbors deal with in the Northeast Kingdom, where they "worry at night about our kids heading over the border" to buy alcohol.
Scott's office is likely to face an onslaught of calls and messages as advocates encouraged the public to speak out in favor of legalization.