In less than two weeks, Vermont will become the ninth state in the nation to officially legalize adult recreational use of cannabis. But unlike the previous eight states, there is one significant wrinkle: You won’t be able to buy it anywhere.
What Vermont calls legalization is different from Colorado, Washington and the other states that made the move over the past four years. The Green Mountain State, beginning on July 1, will allow adults 21 years and older to possess and grow small amounts of the herb without fear of arrest or fine. But the law stopped short of creating a legal retail program in the state.
“I would say that what Vermont’s done is very similar to what the first phase has been in every other state other than Washington state, which did not allow home cultivation,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.
The Burlington Free Press published a general overview of how the Vermont law works. Here are some of the highlights:
Vermont becomes the third New England state to legalize cannabis. The first two, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, have plans on the books to eventually allow for retail sales: Massachusetts later this summer and Maine next year. But the Vermont law did not include a provision to allow for a legal retail system. Instead, it will continue to outlaw cannabis sales for recreational adult use.
Of course, Vermonters will be able to take a short drive to neighboring Massachusetts next month and purchase cannabis. And next year, New Hampshire will happily take their tax dollars.
How Much Can You Possess?
Vermont law allows adults 21 years and older to possess no more than 1 ounce of marijuana. This is the same amount legally allowed in Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Maine allows no more than 2 1/2 ounces and the District of Columbia allows up to 2 ounces. (Note: In Massachusetts, residents are allowed to have up to 10 ounces in their homes without punishment.)
You Can Grow Your Own
Vermont adults will be allowed to grow four immature plants and two mature plants at a time. If you are not the property owner, you must have written permission from the landlord.
Most experienced growers believe the laws surrounding cultivation are too strict and might be difficult to enforce. “What I’ve heard a lot from people around the state of Vermont is this is far too low for the amateur grower,” Laura Subin, director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, told the Free Press.
Public Consumption Is Still Illegal
Like all other states that have legalized cannabis, public consumption remains against the law. “Consumption of marijuana in a public place or in a vehicle is prohibited as is possession of an open container of marijuana in a vehicle, and violations are subject to civil penalties,” the law reads.
Can I Give It Away To My Friends?
Good question. The law is vague. “Gifting” or asking for donations is not specifically addressed in the law. One thing is certain: There are penalties for providing or “enabling consumption” of cannabis to minors.