Back in January, Vermont became the first state to legalize adult-use cannabis through legislative action versus the ballot box. That law, H. 511 will take effect on Sunday, July 1.
“Vermonters are ready to end marijuana prohibition,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which has been lobbying in Vermont since 2003. “Gov. Scott and the Legislature deserve a great deal of credit for listening to their constituents and moving forward with this first phase of legalization. Adults shouldn’t be punished for using a substance less harmful than alcohol, and starting July 1 they no longer will be in the Green Mountain State.
The new law will make it legal for adults to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana. Retail sales and commercial growing will not take place at this tie. Instead, a governor-appointed task force is going to make recommendations about retail sales and commercial cultivation. A final report is expected by November 15. A newly elected legislature will consider that proposal when it convenes in January. There will be separate legislation in order to set some rules around regulating marijuana like alcohol.
“A regulated market will create jobs and spur economic development, giving young adults a reason to stay in Vermont rather than seeking opportunities in other states,” Simon said. “It will also produce much-needed tax revenue that can be used for substance abuse treatment and prevention. Most Vermonters understand that eliminating penalties is only the first step in ending marijuana prohibition, and they expect legislators to finish the job in 2019.”
According to MPP, H. 511 reads as follows:
Allow Adults to Possess and Cultivate Limited Amounts of Cannabis
Adults 21 and older will be allowed to:
- Possess up to one ounce of marijuana or five grams of hashish;
- Cultivate up to two mature and four immature plants in a secure location (the plant limit applies to the entire dwelling unit); and
- Possess the marijuana produced by the plants at the same secure location.
Send Younger People to Diversion for Growing a Small Number of Plants
- Cultivation of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants by a person under 21 will be downgraded to a civil offense, punishable by diversion and enrollment in the Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program.
The new law does not keep cities from creating additional penalties for public consumption or change the law on driving under the influence. It also won’t limit schools from creating additional penalties and it won’t prevent landlords from prohibiting cannabis in a lease.
“Now that marijuana is legal for adults, it’s time for the state to get serious about regulating it and ensuring it is being produced and sold safely and legally.”