Recreational Marijuana Now Legal In Vermont With No Retail Market
Vermont’s legal recreational marijuana bill looks a lot like a decriminalization bill, legalizing possession up to an ounce while outlawing sales.
On July 1, Vermont became the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana and the first to do so without asking voters. Under Vermont’s Act 86, people can grow and possess cannabis, but they can’t sell it. And for the near future, the absence of a legal market will be the distinguishing feature of recreational cannabis in Vermont. With recreational marijuana now legal in Vermont, residents will have to grow their own until the retail market is established.
Vermont Legalizes Recreational Marijuana Without A Legal Market
As of July 1, anyone 21 and over in Vermont can possess up to an ounce of cannabis in public. They can also grow two mature plants and four immature plants in a residence.
But what Vermonters can’t do is sell or purchase recreational marijuana.
Vermont lawmakers did not establish a legal, regulated retail market for adult-use sales in Act 86. And the Governor’s Marijuana Advisory Commission will only make recommendations for a system to license retail sales by the end of the year.
Until then, it’s a crime to sell cannabis to anyone. Penalties, furthermore, are severe. Anyone illegally selling cannabis faces up to a two-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
It’s unclear whether there are any rules in place to prevent the “gift” loophole where customers buy a legal item and receive cannabis as a free gift with their purchase.
In fact, there are a few uncertainties about the rules governing Vermont’s new recreational marijuana program.
Recreational Weed Takes Effect In Vermont Without Clear Rules
Despite the seemingly simple and clear cut limits for recreational marijuana in Vermont, some uncertainties remain.
The one ounce possession limit, for example, makes sense if the product is dried flower. But the limit becomes hazier if the product is a cannabis edible or concentrate.
Additionally, public and private consumption boundaries are a bit blurry. Is a backyard or front porch public or private, for example.
The rules for cultivation also leave some guesswork. According to the rules, private cannabis grows must not be visible to the public. But it’s unclear what a sufficient enclosure would look like.
For Vermonters, these uncertainties could cause some to run afoul of the law without intent or knowledge. But Vermont still plans to settle some of the vague points of Act 86 through case law.
Some Things To Consider About Legal Cannabis In Vermont
There are some rules, however, that are absolutely clear.
Vermont’s recreational marijuana law strictly forbids drivers and passengers from smoking inside vehicles, even if they’re parked. If a child is present inside such a vehicle, fines get much steeper.
People should also refrain from any public cannabis consumption, including public parks and beaches. You can have cannabis with you in those locations—up to an ounce—but you can’t consume it.
However, Lake Champlain, a popular destination, is a federal waterway, and Vermont’s Act 86 doesn’t apply there. So make sure you leave your cannabis at home if you plan to visit.
Renters will want to check with their landlord or management company to see if they allow cannabis consumption on their properties.
Finally, Vermont’s Act 86 may legalize recreational cannabis use, but it still allows employers to set their own rules on cannabis and the workplace.
Many jobs still screen applicants for drug use and employers retain the right to terminate anyone who violates workplace drug policy.
Vermonters Already Celebrating Legal Cannabis
On Sunday, events kicked off across Vermont to celebrate the state’s new era of drug policy. For Vermont’s cannabis community, it’s been a six-month wait since Gov. Scott signed Act 86 into law in January. But many see the law’s implementation as a starting point, rather than an end.