A new law that permits adults in Vermont to legally possess and use marijuana took effect over the weekend.
Legislation passed by the Vermont Legislature in January took effect this weekend, meaning adults can now legally possess limited amounts of marijuana and grow a select number of plants for personal use.
Vermont is the latest of what are now nine U.S. states to legalize adult use marijuana and the first to do so through an act of lawmakers. Despite having “mixed emotions” at the time, Gov. Phil Scott signed the bill into the law.
“The majority of Vermonters, like the majority of the American public, desire to live in a community where responsible adults who choose to consume cannabis are no longer criminalized or stigmatized,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano, in a statement. “Vermont lawmakers and Gov. Scott are to be recognized for responding to the will of the voters, rather than choosing to ignore them.”
Armentano added: “Vermont is leading by example. Lawmakers in other states would be wise to follow.”
Under Act 86, marijuana can be possessed and grown for personal use, but not sold. Unlike the other states that have ended marijuana prohibition, Vermont’s law did not set up a system to tax or regulate the production and distribution of marijuana, leaving adults the only option of obtaining cannabis through personal growing methods. However, the Governor’s Marijuana Advisory Commissioner is expected to recommend that the state establish a licensing system for a regulated marijuana market by the end of the year.
In an interview with local television station WCAX on Saturday, Vermont Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman responded to the marijuana law taking effect, saying the state is “changing [its] laws to reflect what’s happening in society.”
“Lots of people consume cannabis, they’ve been doing it underground for a long time. Many people have been in this state or around the country incarcerated, particularly people of color. It’s an opportunity to change that and, you know, folks deserve their individual choices,” Zuckerman said.
According to recently released nationwide polling data, 68 percent of voters in the U.S. support legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana. It is the highest level of nationwide support ever reported.
What’s Legal and What’s Not
Vermont’s marijuana law allows adults to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow two mature and four immature cannabis plants for personal use.
The law prohibits the use of marijuana in a car, on federal waters like Lake Champlain, and in any public places, including on the beach, in a park, or on the sidewalk. Additionally, landlords can put marijuana restrictions in lease agreements.
Employers in Vermont are also still allowed to require that employees refrain from cannabis use and to impose drug testing procedures.
“If [employers] drug test their employees, including for the presence of marijuana, employers can still do that,” Heather Wright, a Burlington-based employment lawyer told Vermont Public Radio. “For the most part, Vermont employers are allowed to take their own stance on what they do with drug use in the workplace.”
The new recreational marijuana law does not impact the state’s medical marijuana program, in place since 2014. Vermont’s medical marijuana program, now being used by around 5,000 registered patients, allows the legal use and possession of up to two ounces of marijuana.
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Live in Vermont or another state with legal marijuana and are interested in learning how to personally grow your own marijuana? Visit our Cannabis 101 page to learn how to cultivate, cure, and consume cannabis.