Home of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and known for its maple syrup, Vermont seems like the perfect place to take up marijuana. On July 1, 2018, the state's law legalizing recreational cannabis use officially took effect.
But before you go out and buy a quart of Cherry Garcia with a joint in your back pocket, there are some things you should know about using cannabis in the Green Mountain State.
Where and How to Buy
There is currently no system for sales of recreational marijuana to adults. However, medical cannabis patients and caregivers in the Vermont Marijuana Registry (VMR) who have medical marijuana ID cards can buy medical cannabis from VMR-licensed dispensaries.
How to Consume
Cannabis can be smoked and otherwise consumed, in the case of edibles, by those 21 or older on private property. The state's smoke-free laws apply to marijuana smoke, which “ban the possession of lighted tobacco products in nearly all the common areas of indoor 'places of public access.' This includes any place of business that serves the public or that the public has access to use – both public and privately owned and for-profit or not-for-profit organizations.”
Growing your own for personal use is allowed if it's on property owned by the cultivator or with the written consent of the property owner. It also must be cultivated in an enclosure blocked from public view and secure. Cultivators must be 21 or older.
What Isn't Allowed
Adults 21 and older can possess up to 1 ounce, or 28.35 grams, of cannabis, and two mature and four immature marijuana plants per dwelling. Marijuana harvested from your plants does not count toward the 1 ounce (28.35 gram) limit. Using cannabis in a public place or in your car is illegal. It is also illegal to have an open container of marijuana in the car. It is illegal to give marijuana or enable marijuana use to those younger than 21. The law stipulates that someone who dispenses marijuana to, or knowingly enables its use by, someone younger than 21 could face up to two years in prison and a fine of $2,000.
First-Time Use in Vermont
Since cannabis isn't available for sale recreationally, access will probably be more limited to non-medical adult marijuana users. Also, don't think that crossing state lines with marijuana is an option, because that is illegal under federal law. But for first-timers who manage to score a little weed at a friend's house, take it very slowly. You'll enjoy the experience much more if you ease into using cannabis and not overdoing it before you know what you can handle.
Cannabis Legalization in Vermont
The state is unique in that it was the first in the country to legalize recreational marijuana without a ballot initiative. It was enacted by the state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Jan. 22, 2018. Under Act 86, which took full effect July 1, 2018, adults 21 and older can legally cultivate, possess, and consume recreational marijuana.
A medical marijuana law was passed by the state legislature in 2004.
Unlike many of the other states that have legalized recreational marijuana, there is no system for sales and taxation of cannabis in the state yet. Scott created the Governor's Marijuana Advisory Commission with three subcommittees – roadway safety, education and prevention, and taxation and regulation – that are charged with making research-based recommendations. In his executive order regarding the commission, Scott set a Dec. 15, 2018, deadline for the commission to provide recommendations on implementing and operating a regulatory and revenue system for an adult marijuana market. The final commission meeting was on Dec. 12, 2018, before final recommendations could be submitted to the governor.
In a letter to Vermont legislators, Scott wrote: “I look forward to the Marijuana Advisory Commission addressing the need to develop comprehensive education, prevention and highway safety strategies. To be very direct: There must be comprehensive and convincing plans completed in these areas before I will begin to consider the wisdom of implementing a commercial 'tax and regulate' system for an adult marijuana market. It is important for the General Assembly to know that – until we have a workable plan to address each of these concerns – I will veto any additional effort along these lines, which manages to reach my desk.”