Recreational marijuana is legal in Vermont. However, H.511 of 2018, which ended total prohibition and made it permissible for individuals 21 years of age or older to possess 1 oz or less of flower marijuana, 5 g or less of THC concentrate, or 2 mature plants and 4 immature plants, did not create a regulatory framework to oversee a commercial market. In 2020, Governor Phil Scott allowed legislation to pass that will allow the state to tax and regulate sales, but the framework necessary to facilitate lawful sales will not be in place for some time. Until properly regulated dispensaries are allowed to open (estimated to be sometime in October 2022), there will continue to be no establishment where one can purchase recreational marijuana.
Possessing or growing more than what is allowed by H.511 is against the law. Possession of between 1-2 oz is a misdemeanor. First-time offenders may face a maximum punishment of incarceration for 6 months and a fine of $500. Subsequent offences may result in a maximum punishment of incarceration for 2 years and a fine of $2,000. Possession of more than 5 g of concentrate is a misdemeanor. First-time offenders face a maximum fine of $500 and a term of imprisonment up to 6 months. Subsequent offences may result in fines of up to $2,000 and terms of imprisonment of up to 2 years.
It is a felony to cultivate more than the number of plants allowed by H.511 or to possess more than 2 oz of marijuana, and the penalty structure for these offenses is the same.
The maximum punishment for cultivating 3-10 mature plants or possessing between 2 oz and 1 lb of marijuana is a term of imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of $10,000. The punishment for cultivating 11-25 plants or possessing between 1-10 lbs is a term of imprisonment of 5 years and a fine of $100,000. The punishment for cultivating more than 25 plants or possessing more than 10 lbs is a term of imprisonment of 15 years and a fine of $500,000.
Vermont is also home to a medical marijuana program and there are currently 5 dispensaries for participating patients. Patients may possess 2 oz of usable marijuana. Home cultivation is also allowed, and patients may grow a maximum of 9 plants, 2 of which may be mature at any one time.
Patients must receive a recommendation from their doctor to possess or grow medicinal marijuana. Medical professionals authorized to recommend it include properly licensed physicians who are authorized and licensed to prescribe drugs, licensed naturopathic physicians, licensed physician assistants, and licensed APRNs who have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with the patient. Qualification extends to physicians who meet the above criteria who are professionally licensed under substantially equivalent provisions in adjacent states (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York). Qualifying conditions include:
• Crohn’s disease
• Multiple sclerosis
• Parkinson’s disease
• PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
• Severe or chronic pain
• Severe nausea
Physicians are also authorized to recommend marijuana to patients receiving hospice care.
Vermont does not have a reciprocity program to accommodate medical marijuana patients from out of state.
For more information about the state’s program, see the Department of Public Safety’s site for the Marijuana Registry: https://medicalmarijuana.vermont.gov/.