An unknown outcome is a rare occurrence when debate begins in the Vermont Senate, but it remained unclear Wednesday afternoon as senators took to the floor to consider legalizing marijuana if they would, in fact, vote to advance it.

Angela Evancie / VPR

On Wednesday afternoon, the Vermont Senate became only the second legislative body in the nation to approve a bill that would legalize the sale and possession of marijuana. But the narrow vote spotlights the controversial nature of the legislation. And proposal still faces staunch opposition in the House.

Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

This week the Vermont Senate is expected to consider legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. And according to a new VPR Poll, a majority of Vermonters favor the idea.

Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

The VPR Poll put some of the biggest questions facing Vermont to ... Vermonters. Novel, huh? They told us a lot.

From left to right: Toby Talbot|AP; Taylor Dobbs|VPR; Bob Kinzel|VPR; Toby Talbot|AP

It's likely that the legalization of marijuana could emerge as a key issue in this year's gubernatorial race. That's because both Democratic candidates support a bill making its way through the Senate and both Republicans are against it.

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Gov. Peter Shumlin says he'd like to see lawmakers legalize marijuana during the current legislative session. But it now appears unlikely that the proposal will allow individual Vermonters to grow their own marijuana.

The golden dome of the Vermont Statehouse with a blue sky background.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

Six of Vermont's largest physician organizations are urging the Legislature not to legalize marijuana this year.

Bob Kinzel / VPR

The effort to legalize marijuana has gotten a big boost at the Statehouse. Gov. Peter Shumlin and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Sears have announced their support for a bill that "cautiously and deliberately" moves to legalize marijuana in Vermont.

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When Gov. Peter Shumlin voiced his support for legalizing recreational marijuana, he made a specific exception: edibles — pot infused cookies, brownies, butters and goodies.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a series of public hearings in southern Vermont Monday on marijuana legalization.

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Is this the year for legalization? Proponents think so, but even those who'd like to see marijuana legalized know that there's a long gap between here and there.

Questions persist on taxation, edibles, distribution and driving under the influence of marijuana, among other issues. Governor Peter Shumlin outlined those concerns in his State of the State address last week.

Angela Evancie / VPR file

The future of a bill to legalize marijuana is very much in doubt on this first day of the 2016 session. House Speaker Shap Smith says there are still many outstanding questions about the plan, and he doesn't think it's ready for a full debate at this time.

Changes in the federal tax code could make it harder for economists to predict how much Vermont will collect in state revenues next year.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

Tuesday, the 2016 Legislative session kicks off in Montpelier. There's usually a lot more activity in the few first weeks of the second year of the biennium. That's because House and Senate committees aren't starting from scratch and they have dozens of bills to review that were introduced during the first year.

A new advisory commission created by Gov. Phil Scott this week will focus on the issue of marijuana legalization in Vermont.
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Backers of the push to legalize marijuana say the commercial cannabis market will be a boon for the Vermont economy. But some major employers are challenging that argument, and at least two industry trade associations say legal weed will undermine the quality of the state workforce.

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The University of Vermont's College of Medicine is offering a course on medical marijuana for the spring semester. Officially named "Medical Cannabis, Pharm-372," the course will cover the history of cannabis use, the current legal landscape, how the body responds to the drug and potential medical applications.

The co-founders of the Phytoscience Institute, Willy Cats-Baril, Dr. Kalev Freeman, Monique McHenry, Tom Grace and Robin Grace, from left, say they started the firm to improve medical cannabis research. The institute won a license to open a dispensary.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Eleven years ago, Vermont followed suit. But doctors still know surprisingly little about the pharmacology of cannabis. And a Vermont-based think-tank is hoping to transform the industry by applying new scientific rigor to an old drug.

Kevin Wolf / Associated Press

Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill Wednesday to end the federal prohibition on marijuana.

As Vermont officials and families are struggling to end the scourge of heroin across the state, Sanders says it’s disturbing that marijuana and something as deadly as heroin are classified the same in the eyes of the federal government.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Assuming for a moment that elected officials decided it was time to legalize marijuana, what would a regulated cannabis market actually look like? That’s the question a key Senate committee has set out to answer, and lawmakers say that if legalization moves forward, they want to do it the Vermont way.

Kevin Wolf / AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders, speaking to college students at George Mason University Thursday, said he thinks the federal government should relax about weed.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Next week, Vermont lawmakers will begin work on a bill that would create a legal market for marijuana in the Green Mountains.

Proponents say there’s a good chance the legislation will pass in 2016, but one group, Smart Approaches to Marijuana Vermont, is looking to slow the momentum behind the legalization movement.