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Vermont governor rejects recreational pot bill


You won't find this vice on the Vegas Strip

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.

“I am not philosophically opposed to ending the prohibition on marijuana, and I recognize there is a clear societal shift in that direction,” he said. “However, I feel it is crucial that key questions and concerns involving public safety and health are addressed before moving forward.”

Scott said he was “offering a path forward”: He wants the legislature to toughen penalties for stoned driving and for providing marijuana to children. He also wants the bill to include money for regulation, enforcement and education.

“We must get this right,” he said.

He also said the final bill should include “an impairment testing mechanism.” But there is no breathalyzer for marijuana, which creates a conundrum for police trying to determine whether a driver is stoned.

When asked by reporters whether he had ever smoked pot, the governor said no, but he added, “I have friends who do. I’m sure you have friends who do, too.”

Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group, said he was disappointed by the veto, “but we are very encouraged by the governor’s offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session.”

Related: Weed is legal in Sin City, but you won’t see it on the Vegas Strip

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 Data, 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 Data 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.

CNNMoney (New York) First published May 24, 2017: 12:26 PM ET



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London tourist attractions closed after U.K. warns another attack likely


When is something 'terrorism'?

Some of London’s tourist attractions were shut down on Wednesday after the U.K. warned that another terrorist attack could be imminent and deployed members of the military to guard key locations in the city.

The Houses of Parliament have been closed to the public and all tours have been canceled, a precaution recommended by the police. The defense ministry canceled the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace, and the Bank of England said its museum would not open to visitors.

Other popular tourist attractions — including the Tower of London and Kensington Palace — said they would remain open with increased security. Chelsea Football Club canceled a parade planned for Sunday in London to celebrate winning the English Premier League.

Britain is reeling from an explosion that killed at least 22 people in Manchester on Monday, the deadliest terror attack to hit the country since the London bombings in July 2005. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Theresa May raised the country’s terror threat level to “critical,” signaling that intelligence services believe another attack is imminent.

Related: Manchester bomber was known to UK security services

london police terror
Police on patrol in London.

The bombing in Manchester comes just two months after four people were killed and dozens were injured when an attacker plowed his car through crowded London streets before attempting to storm Parliament.

The incidents — combined with elevated threat levels — could make tourists think twice before booking a trip to the U.K.

“This kind of incident has a big emotional impact on people, making [them] feel that the world is more dangerous and not as welcoming,” Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at travel firm Hopper, said of the Manchester attack.

pray for manchester billboard attack union jack

The worries extend beyond Britain. Attacks in cities such as Berlin, Brussels, Paris and Nice within the last two years have already made some people wary about traveling to Europe.

The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for Americans visiting Europe earlier this month, citing the continued threat of attacks, particularly in tourist hot spots.

Witnesses describe Manchester Arena explosion

French visitor levels dropped 4% in 2016 and spending by travelers slowed as tourists worried about safety. This contributed to the first decline in visitors to Western Europe in many years, at a time when global tourism is growing.

Britain’s tourism industry has held up well, however. Overseas visitor numbers to the U.K. rose by 18% in the first three months of 2017 to 8 million.

A weak pound has helped — it fell sharply after the Brexit referendum in June 2016 — making British hotels, restaurants and shops much cheaper for people exchanging dollars or euros.

Experts said the Manchester attack alone won’t prevent tourism in the U.K. from continuing to grow this year, but it may slow the rate of expansion.

In the wake of Monday’s bombing, Euromonitor downgraded its forecast for growth in visitor numbers to 4.9% from 5.1%. That means it expects roughly 100,000 fewer people to visit the U.K. this year than might otherwise have done so.

“In the scheme of things, it’s a very small downgrade,” said Euromonitor’s top travel analyst, Caroline Bremner. “But there’s obviously going to be an effect.”

Related: Terrorism and Trump hurting tourism

Surry said the full impact on tourism may not be evident for some time.

“Even if there’s a small shift in behavior over the long term, it will really add up to a significant financial impact,” he warned.

CNNMoney (London) First published May 24, 2017: 8:29 AM ET



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