Pot in Vermont: The Latest on the Recreational Legalization Front

 

Last year was a historical moment for both the state of Vermont and the marijuana community. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana with a legislative vote rather than a ballot initiative.

However, it became clear quickly that the new laws weren’t as liberal as some probably would have liked. While a good first step, there is still much ground to be covered in terms of true recreational legalization.

Keep reading to discover what’s going on with Vermont’s marijuana laws and some possible changes and what they could mean in the future.

Current Recreational Laws

Medicinal marijuana has been legalized in Vermont since 2004, but it would be another 14 years before recreational use would be legalized. In 2018, the state of Vermont passed a legislative vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. This would make Vermont the first state in history to legalize recreational marijuana without a ballot initiative.

The recreational laws were a welcome social change to residents and emphasized the state’s willingness to maintain its progressiveness. When it comes to the laws for recreation, they can be broken down into two components. Use and possession for individuals, and the cultivation & sale of marijuana within the state.

Use and Possession

Possession and use laws in Vermont are similar to those of other states. An individual person is allowed to have on them no more than 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use at any one time.

Likewise, a person can also have up to 5 grams of hashish on them.

The first offense for violating this is up to 6 months in jail and a fine of no more than $500.00. Each additional offense comes with harsher punishments. The laws governing the recreational use of marijuana also prohibit the smoking of marijuana in public places. These include parks, streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and inside public buildings.

For those who are concerned with growth within the state of Vermont don’t worry the laws cover this as well.

Cultivation/Selling

In Vermont, a person 21 years of age or older are allowed to cultivate no more than 2 mature plants and 4 immature plants. But this limit also applies to households regardless of how many persons 21 and over is living there.

This means that no matter how many people over 21 that live with you, there can only be two mature plants and 4 immature plants for the entire household. However, all the marijuana cultivated from the plants does not count towards the allowed 1 ounce.

The plants must be cultivated on the property either owned by you or you must have permission from the owner of the land you are using to grow marijuana on. Regardless of who’s land you choose to grow on, the plants must be kept from public view and must be secured.

The requirement to secure the plants isn’t to protect the plants from potential thieves. Instead, the requirement is meant to keep the plants secure against persons under 21 from having access to the plants.

For the most part this line up with most other states. The number of plants is a little less than most other states but still better than none at all.

There is one important thing to note about the legalization of recreational marijuana. While currently smoking in the privacy in your home is allowed, as well as cultivation, there is no place to buy recreational marijuana.

Medicinal marijuana dispensaries remain untouched and will still be able to supply their patients. But googling Vermont recreational dispensary will likely yield zero results.

Legalization of Commercial Sales

Understandably, the initial reaction to the new laws included more than a few raised eyebrows. After all, that’s all well and good that people can smoke it recreationally, but how are they going to get it to smoke it? Some may say they can grow it themselves, but again where would they get the seeds?

The law doesn’t just make a Vermont recreational dispensary illegal through omission. Meaning it doesn’t simply address the sale of marijuana. The law actually states the sale of marijuana is prohibited within the state of Vermont.

Earlier in 2019, it appeared that may all change. The Senate passed a bill in a lopsided 23-5 vote to establish a commercial recreational marijuana market in the state of Vermont. Currently, the bill is being passed through the House committees and could be poised to move to the House floor.

The new bill proposes a 16% marijuana retail tax and an additional 2% local municipality tax for those towns that allow the sale of marijuana within their city/town limits. So far, most seem to be on board with the marijuana retail market developing in Vermont. However, it is still unclear if the bill will pass the house floor. And, even if it does, the governor of Vermont, a Republican, has already stated he is likely to veto the bill.

Municipality Response

While elected officials have, on rare occasions, surprised by their constituents and gone with the popular choice instead of the party choice, it still looks grim from a city/town standpoint.

As elected officials and lawmakers debate and argue in the capital about allowing the recreational sale of marijuana, some municipalities are prohibiting the sale of marijuana before it is even legalized.

These towns and municipalities like Newport are not only prohibiting the outright sale of marijuana but also the gifting of marijuana as a bonus to a regular sale.

Why All These Matters to You

So why does this matter to you or anyone else? Living in Vermont right now is an exciting time. While the legalization of recreational marijuana wasn’t initially what everyone wanted it was a step in the right direction. Since then strides have been made to establish a commercial recreational marijuana market while meeting mild opposition.

While it’s safe to smoke marijuana, it can only be done in the privacy of our home and there is currently no way to buy recreational marijuana. While the common loophole is gifting and donations, some towns are prohibiting the transfer of marijuana in any way.

In a new industry and market, there is always going to be misinformation. It’s important to do research and knows where to find the right resources to provide the right information. This can keep you from accidentally finding yourself in some serious trouble.

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