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Vermont could become the next state to legalize pot

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NEW YORK  — The Green Mountain State could get a little greener.

The governor of Vermont has one day left to decide whether his state will become the ninth to legalize recreational pot.

Republican Governor Phil Scott is not “philosophically opposed to legalization” but worries about kids getting access to cannabis and people driving stoned, spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley told CNNMoney on Wednesday.

“He’s going to take a look very closely at it,” she said.

If the governor does nothing, the bill automatically becomes law at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday.

The bill, which passed the legislature May 11, would legalize pot for people 21 or older beginning in July 2018. The bill would require a state commission to decide how to regulate a retail market for legal weed, and how to tax it.

Medical marijuana is already legal in Vermont, where it’s sold at medical dispensaries. Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization organization.

According to the organization, lawmakers in 22 states have considered bills this year to legalize recreational marijuana. But Vermont is the first state to make it this far through legislative means.

Matt Simon, New England political director for the MPP, said legalization has been more successful through referendums than legislatures because “the younger demographic tends to support legalization, and legislators tend to be a lot of gray beards.”

Colorado was the first to legalize recreational marijuana, in 2012. In Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, anyone 21 or older can buy pot at dispensaries.

Voters in four more states — California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — have also legalized recreational marijuana. But it is not legally sold in those states yet because regulators are still developing a system for retail sales and taxation.

Recreational marijuana is also legal in Washington, D.C., where it was approved by referendum in 2014. There are medical dispensaries there, but no recreational retailers yet.

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