Vermont made it legal for adults aged 21 and older to possess and grow a restricted amount of cannabis for personal use in 2018. However, there is no regulated recreational industry in place yet. Although possession is legal for adults, the only way to legally purchase cannabis in Vermont is to become a medical marijuana patient. Here is everything you need to know about the Green Mountain state’s cannabis laws.
Possession and Purchasing Limits
Adults aged 21 and over may possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis and up to 5 grams of hashish. Adults who violate these limits may be imprisoned for a maximum of 6 months, fined a maximum of $500, or both. Subsequent violations can result in increased prison sentences and fines. Vermont has not yet created regulations for the recreational cannabis industry. This means that there are very limited options for adults to obtain cannabis. Unless they are registered medical marijuana patients, they cannot purchase cannabis from a dispensary. While adults are authorized to grow their own weed, there is no legal place for nonmedical patients to buy seeds. The only way to obtain cannabis in Vermont as a recreational user is to receive it (for no remuneration) from someone who already has it. That means that your friend can give you up to an ounce of cannabis, but they can’t expect payment from you for that “gift.” The law’s silence regarding how to access cannabis leaves room for Vermont residents to gift cannabis but ask for “donations” or sell overpriced merchandise to compensate for the cost of the weed. This type of industry exists in the District of Columbia, and it creates a legally gray area difficult for the government to contain.
It is illegal to consume cannabis in a public place. Cannabis consumption is prohibited in the following locations:
- Public buildings
- Any place where the use or possession of tobacco products is illegal
Consuming cannabis in an unauthorized location can result in the following civil penalties:
- Up to $100 for the first offense
- Up to $200 for the second offense
- Up to $500 for the third and following offenses
The only legally permitted place to consume cannabis is in an “individual dwelling.” However, renters will need to check with their landlords before consuming. Lease agreements are permitted to restrict cannabis use. Colleges and universities are also authorized to ban cannabis possession and use on school grounds.
Driving Under the Influence
It is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis whether it is used recreationally or medically. Vermont has a growing Drug Recognition Experts program consisting of over 50 Drug Recognition Evaluators who are trained to recognize impairment due to the use of substances other than or in addition to alcohol. A DUI conviction in Vermont can result in the following consequences:
- Loss of driver’s license
- Loss of thousands of dollars in fines, court fees, and lost wages
- Imprisonment for up to 2 years. Sentences become lengthier after subsequent violations.
- Mandatory drug counseling costing between $500 and $1000.
It is a violation of Federal and state law to carry cannabis across state lines. This is true even if the state you are entering has legalized cannabis. Because Vermont’s law does not regulate recreational cannabis, adults may be tempted to travel to nearby Canada or Massachusetts to purchase weed. However, getting caught crossing international or state borders with marijuana can lead to a felony conviction.
Adults are permitted to grow up to 2 mature and 4 immature cannabis plants per each home, regardless of the amount of people living in the home. The plants must be hidden from public view and stored in a secured enclosure. The cannabis harvested from a home garden does not count toward the 1-ounce possession rule as long as the excess cannabis is “stored in an indoor facility on the property where the marijuana was cultivated, and reasonable precautions are taken to prevent unauthorized access to marijuana.”
Qualifying Debilitating Medical Conditions
If an adult or pediatric patient is diagnosed with one of the following conditions, they may be eligible to participate in Vermont’s medical marijuana program:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn's disease
- Parkinson's disease
- if the disease or the treatment results in severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms.
- A disease, medical condition, or its treatment that is chronic, debilitating, and produces one or more of the following intractable symptoms:
- cachexia or wasting syndrome
- chronic pain
- severe nausea
Applying for a Marijuana Registry Identification Card in Vermont
In order to determine eligibility, patients must receive confirmation of a medical diagnosis from a health care professional with whom they have a bona fide patient-professional relationship. The healthcare professional must complete the health care professional verification form and give the completed form to the patient. The application can be completed by downloading the necessary forms: the registration packet, the health care professional verification form, the registered caregiver application (if the patient needs a caregiver), and the mental health care provider form (for patients seeking treatment for PTSD). Applicants must pay a nonrefundable $50 application fee for each registration card. The renewal fee is also $50. Lost or stolen cards, as well as cards that need a change of information, may be replaced for a $25 fee. The Vermont Marijuana Registry will take up to 30 days to approve or deny an application. The Registry will mail a registration card to the patient if the application is approved. During the application process, patients will designate a dispensary from where to purchase their medicine. Vermont has licensed 5 dispensaries located in the following cities:
- South Burlington
Designating a dispensary is a somewhat permanent decision. Patients will need to pay a $25 fee to change dispensaries and have that information updated on their registration cards. Medical patients may possess a maximum of 2 ounces of usable cannabis, 2 mature plants, and 7 immature plants.