On Thursday 8 October, 2020, Governor Phil Scott (R) announced that he’ll allow a marijuana sales legalization bill passed by the legislature (S.54) to take effect. This means that it is now not only legal to grow and possess cannabis in Vermont, but also legal to sell it with the appropriate licensing. This makes Vermont the 11th state in the US to legalize recreational marijuana. In another bill, Gov. Phil Scott also signs a bill to facilitate automatic expungements for prior cannabis convictions.
Legalizing recreational sales has been a long time coming in Vermont. Even though recreational cannabis was legalized in Vermont in 2018, there were no sales or revenue provisions put in place. Votes were vetoed, pro and con arguments were made, and the details on the tax-and-regulate legislation were debated over. Although sales may officially be legalized, there may not be an actual dispensary to buy from recreationally until 2021 or 2022.
What Does This Mean for Marijuana Enthusiasts in Vermont?
The law in Vermont regarding marijuana in Vermont says that a recreational user aged 21 or over can possess up to one ounce of cannabis flower on their person, or grow a maximum of two mature plants and four immature plants. There has been no real change in possession limit for recreational cannabis users from Vermont.
Possession of 1 – 2 ounce is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $500, although sentences may be deferred for first-time offenders. A subsequent conviction for possession of 1 – 2 ounce is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2,000. Possession of amounts larger than 2 ounces bring more severe legal ramifications.
There are no recreational cannabis dispensaries able to sell at the moment. This means that recreational cannabis fans in Vermont will have to grow their own for now!
Has Anything Changed for Medical Marijuana Users in Vermont?
You can read the full set of rules here. There have been some changes to the medical marijuana program in Vermont due to the legalization of recreational cannabis. As a result of S. 54 passing in 2020, oversight of the medical cannabis program will shift from the Department of Public Safety to the Cannabis Control Board. This means that an actual cannabis board will be overseeing cannabis use, and not a law enforcement agency. Many see this as a positive change.
Do I Still Need a Medical Marijuana Card to Purchase Marijuana in Vermont?
As there are no officially licensed places to buy recreational marijuana as of yet, yes, you do need to have a medical marijuana card in Vermont to legally purchase cannabis. A recreational cannabis user can technically only grow or possess it, not purchase it.
Is There a Point in Getting a Vermont MMJ Certificate & Card?
Yes, there is, as medical marijuana patients save money on taxes and can get better deals at dispensaries. This is especially important for patients, as they are less likely to have the money to be able to afford or grow the medications they need. Plus, there’s also the fact that, at the moment, there is no recreational dispensary!
Medical patients may also possess up to two ounces of usable cannabis flower on their person, and grow up to two mature cannabis plants and 9 immature cannabis plants. The legal age to undergo a medical marijuana evaluation for one’s self is 18 years-old. Those who are younger will need a caregiver.
Learn more about getting a Vermont medical marijuana certificate and card here.