In 2018, Vermont became the first state in the US to legalize marijuana legislatively. The then-governor signed a bill legalizing marijuana for adults aged 21 and older. Therefore, adults could legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and two mature and four immature cannabis plants. This condition made Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults; only that other states did so through the ballot.
With such a history, you would assume that it was fine for you to possess cannabis and consume cannabis freely in Vermont. However, a little apprehension is never a bad idea. It helps to fully understand the legal implications before indulging in your favorite strain.
This article explores the legal history of marijuana in Vermont and the present situation. You’ll thus understand what to expect when using marijuana in the state.
Cannabis In Vermont: Legislation History
Vermont made it legal to access marijuana for medicinal purposes in 2004 through state legislature S76. This was an act relating to the Medical Use of Marijuana. The bill passed without the governor’s signature. It effectively removed all the criminal or civil penalty related to possession and cultivation.
Additionally, it marked the formation of the Vermont Marijuana Registry and the governor’s marijuana advisory commission. Some further amendments and bills gave more healthcare professionals the authority to recommend marijuana to their patients.
In 2018, Gov. Phil Scott signed H.511, which allowed the legal possession of marijuana by adults. The cannabis laws removed penalties for possessing small qualities of marijuana, precisely an ounce, two mature plants, and four immature marijuana plants per adult.
In 2020, recreational marijuana use came into the limelight. Gov. Phil Scott passed Vermont S. 54, a bill formulated in 2019 to pass without his signature. The law allowed for the setting up of adult-use retail establishments. Additionally, it prioritized small-scale cultivators and businesses owned by minorities. Furthermore, it allowed for the Vermont Cannabis Control Board to be set up.
These cannabis laws were meant to ensure discretion by adults when using marijuana. The idea was to ensure no undue influence on children to adopt the habit before they came of age. If you wish to access marijuana for medical purposes, you need a license. The Department of Public Safety’s Vermont Marijuana Registry issues those marijuana cards. You only need to meet the qualifying conditions. Additionally, the registry monitors the activities of dispensaries, ensuring they comply with the law.
Vermont Medical Marijuana Laws
Like other states, Vermont accepted marijuana use for medical purposes before considering recreational cannabis use. Since 2011, a person with a marijuana license could access more cannabis in Vermont than those seeking it for recreational use. Specifically, you can buy two ounces of usable marijuana, two mature marijuana plants, and seven immature plants.
Vermont Qualifying For A Medical Marijuana License
One needs to prove they suffer from one of the conditions on this list to qualify for a marijuana medical card:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- PTSD (requires the Mental Health Care Provider Form)
- Crohn’s disease
- Glaucoma, only if the condition of its treatment results in severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms
- Any disease or medical condition that is chronic, debilitating, or gives off symptoms such as chronic pain, cachexia or wasting syndrome, seizures, or severe nausea.
How Do I Get A Medical Marijuana Card In Vermont?
The process entails four steps:
Book an Appointment With a Vermont Medical Marijuana Doctor
You first need a qualified physician to evaluate your condition to determine whether you need to use cannabis in Vermont. The doctor checks to see whether you have one of the conditions listed above to qualify you for the next steps.
Attend Your Vermont Medical Marijuana Card Appointment
Once the doctor determines you suffer from one of the listed conditions, they will fill out a Qualifying Condition Verification Form. You’ll need a copy of that form for the final step.
Submit Your Paperwork Online
Once you get the Qualifying Condition Verification Form, you need to go online to the Vermont Medical Marijuana Registry portal. You’ll find an application form to fill out. Ensure you have your evidence of residency and a digital color image. There is a $50 one-time application fee. The card, which arrives in your mail after a month, enables the purchase of marijuana at registered marijuana dispensaries.
Visit a Registered Medical Marijuana Dispensary
There exist several marijuana dispensaries in the state, with more scheduled to open soon. If you cannot access one where you are, your card allows you to cultivate marijuana. Therefore, you can opt to have several crops for personal consumption. You only need to know how to grow marijuana and have the right equipment.
Vermont Public Consumption Laws
Discreet use of cannabis products in private locations is perfectly legal in Vermont. However, consuming cannabis products in public spaces is prohibited and will likely land you in legal trouble. Public spaces include areas where you may be alone but still accessible to the general public, such as at the park. Smoking weed vaporizers is especially frowned upon, as the smoking and non-smoking zone rules apply.
Additionally, property owners and managers reserve the right to ban cannabis product consumption in their establishments. Furthermore, an employer has the right to ban cannabis use on their premises.
Keep in mind that cannabis possession and consumption are federally illegal. Therefore, you cannot use cannabis products on federal property in Vermont, such as national parks. Additionally, cannabis is still illegal in some states. Therefore, transporting cannabis across state lines could land you in trouble. You must confirm the applicable laws on your route before starting your journey.
It is illegal to operate machinery under the influence of cannabis, including driving. Therefore, you’ll be in legal trouble if you’re found to have cannabis in your vehicle. The only exception is transporting it in a closed container in the trunk. Note that possession also applies to passengers.
You can only possess and consume marijuana in Vermont if you are 21 years or older. Therefore, asking a minor to carry some for you is illegal, as is gifting them the same.
Vermont Cannabis DUI Laws
DUI laws apply even to marijuana use and are uniform across all states. Therefore, if you are found to be driving under the influence of marijuana, you could lose your driver’s license. Additionally, you’ll likely face prosecution or have to undergo a court diversion program by the state.
What Are the Applicable Cannabis DUI Penalties In Vermont?
First-time offenders face a maximum imprisonment term of two years, a $750 fine, or both. Additionally, there’s a $160 DUI surcharge and a driver’s license suspension of up to 90 days.
Second-time offenders may go to jail for up to two years, pay a $1,500 fine, or both. The $160 DUI surcharge applies. The person may have the driver’s license suspended for 18 months. Additionally, one may have to do 200 hours of community service and serve 60 consecutive hours in prison.
Third-time offenders face a maximum of five years in prison, a $2,500 fine, or both, along with the $160 DUI surcharge. They will lose their driver’s license for life. Additionally, they must serve 96 consecutive hours in prison. Alternatively, that duration may reduce if the rehab process is successful and if there is proof of time served in a residential alcohol facility.
A fourth and subsequent offense attracts a 10-year prison sentence, a $5,000 fine, or both. You will face a driver’s license suspension for life and must serve 195 consecutive hours in prison. The alternative time served in a residential alcohol facility applies here as well.
Where To Find A Vermont Cannabis Dispensary?
Vermont recently made it legal to access recreational marijuana. However, marijuana dispensaries only service those medical patients with the appropriate license. Currently, there are five state dispensaries:
- CeresMed in Burlington and South Burlington
- CeresMed South in Brattleboro and Middlebury
- Phytocare Vermont in Bennington
- Vermont Patients Alliance in Montpelier
- Grassroots Vermont in Brandon
The recent legislation is set to open up more dispensaries, thus easing access to marijuana in more locations and for more people.
Access Marijuana At The Retail Outlets
The five marijuana outlets offer medical marijuana to users and their caregivers. These shops operate under the Vermont Marijuana Registry. You can only purchase cannabis from them if you have a valid VMR MMJ card. Additionally, you can only switch to another dispensary after a 30-day formal notice.
Ask For Marijuana Delivery
Alternatively, you can schedule a drop-off at your residence if you are an approved client of one of the five dispensaries. This delivery method works under stringent regulations and accurately documents all deliveries.
Hours Of Operation
Most dispensaries operate within the standard work hours of 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Some expect you to schedule an appointment before visiting, with their openings available 24 to 48 hours prior.
The present legal framework caps the permitted purchase amounts to four ounces of marijuana products a month. If you wish to access more than four ounces, you need the approval of two separate physicians.
How Many Cannabis Plants Can I Grow At Home?
If you cannot access medical marijuana at the dispensaries, you are free to grow some at home. The 2018 legislation allows you to cultivate two mature cannabis plants and four immature plants, totaling six plants.
This condition applies to the residence, not an individual. Therefore, no matter how many people over 21 years of age reside in the building, you cannot exceed this number. Additionally, the residence’s owner must meet the set conditions to access medical marijuana. Alternatively, the resident must have written consent from the building’s owner to cultivate marijuana. Furthermore, the plants must be screened off from the public and in a location inaccessible to minors.
The beauty of this regulation is that you are free to keep whatever harvest your plants produce. Therefore, there is no cap on how many ounces you can possess from your cultivation, thus beating the purchase limit of four ounces a month. This may be the better alternative for most Vermont dwellers with the space, time, and equipment to cultivate marijuana.
Vermont Responsible Marijuana Use
Legal access to marijuana still requires you to exercise responsibility when smoking cannabis. The medicinal qualities of cannabis do not prevent its recreational application, which may become a vice if left unchecked. Therefore, the best approach is to use marijuana responsibly. These principles will help you maintain the necessary safeguards:
Only For 21 Years And Over
Only adults should consume marijuana. Therefore, access it if you are of age, and ensure those around you are of age to access and consume it. This means you need to stop any minor in your circle who tries using marijuana or anyone trying to gift a minor some marijuana. Additionally, ensure there is no authorized access to your marijuana plants. Minors may knowingly or unknowingly consume marijuana if there is easy access to the crop.
No Operating Machinery
Avoid operating machinery or even driving while under the influence of cannabis. It is grossly irresponsible to use marijuana and attempt to drive, no matter how in control you feel. Unlike alcohol, whose effects are elaborate, marijuana’s high or drowsiness may slowly creep in, leading to avoidable accidents.
Understand Your Reaction
People react differently to marijuana strains and consumption methods. Therefore, take time to understand your ideal dosage, consumption method, consumption environment, and desired effect. Such understanding ensures you enjoy each session, do not overindulge and do not fall for the traps of peer pressure. For example, if you need marijuana for pain relief, getting high should not be your priority. Therefore, you need to determine your minimum effective dose to prevent consumption just to chase a high.
You need to respect other people and their rights, especially after consuming marijuana. Violating those rights gives marijuana a bad name and indicates abuse. Therefore, maintain decency at all times, and practice discretion when consuming marijuana. After suffering a bad reputation, marijuana is slowly regaining respect in the public domain. Therefore, avoid being the reason the lousy perception continues to exist.
Check The Strain
Aim for marijuana products that contain higher doses of CBD than THC. CBD is the compound in cannabis that possesses the plant’s medicinal properties. Therefore, medical use of marijuana dictates that strains with the most CBD are ideal for your needs. THC is the compound in marijuana that makes you feel high. You don’t want to prioritize getting high over getting better.
Conclusion: Is Weed Legal In Vermont?
Vermont is among the first states to make best weed grinder legal or legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. The state recently joined the forefront in pushing for recreational marijuana use. Plans are underway to facilitate access to marijuana for the latter purpose. Hopefully, more people will enjoy the wonderful benefits of this incredible plant. They only need to do so responsibly.
This article explains the legal situation in Vermont regarding marijuana and how to navigate the existing laws. Since medical marijuana remains the best legal option, you now know how to access it and the best practices. With such an understanding, you should avoid legal pitfalls and ensure responsible marijuana use while living in Vermont.