Yes, marijuana is legal in Vermont. The state initially legalized medical cannabis in 2004, and in 2020, recreational cannabis sales were also legalized. Adults at least aged 21 are allowed to purchase a maximum of 1 ounce of cannabis in a single transaction. However, a valid government-issued photo ID card is required to buy recreational cannabis at any of the over 50 licensed dispensaries in the state. Cannabis can be purchased as flower, concentrates, vape cartridges, and edibles with specific quantity limits and THC potency caps. Medical cannabis users are permitted to possess up to 2 ounces of medical cannabis. While adults may visit dispensaries to buy cannabis products, state law currently prohibits recreational cannabis delivery by dispensaries.
Individuals aged 21 or older are permitted to cultivate a maximum of two mature and four immature cannabis plants at home, regardless of the number of adults living in the dwelling. Penalties may be imposed for cultivating larger quantities of cannabis. In contrast, medical cannabis users are permitted to grow up to 9 marijuana plants, but no more than 2 may be mature.
Note that regardless of the purpose (medical or recreational), using cannabis in public locations or on federal property is illegal. Additionally, transporting cannabis across state lines is also unlawful.
Under Vermont law, municipalities have the option to allow or prohibit the establishment of retail cannabis businesses. While some municipalities may not have cannabis retailers, they are not allowed to use their regulatory authority to prohibit non-retail cannabis establishments.
No permanent amendments have been made to Vermont marijuana laws in 2023. However, the following bills have been introduced by the state’s lawmakers:
The following is the cannabis legalization timeline in Vermont:
Although federal legalization faced hurdles in 2022, there are promising signs for the potential advancement of cannabis reform in 2023 and beyond. While the likelihood of federal legalization remains low for 2023, incremental progress was made in federal reform efforts throughout 2022.
In October, President Biden issued a statement granting pardons for federal offenses related to simple marijuana possession. He also directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to review the categorization of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, the most restrictive category under federal law. While the potential rescheduling of cannabis to Schedule II carries some disadvantages, such as limitations on interstate sales, it would be beneficial for the medical marijuana industry overall, potentially enabling the cultivation of medical cannabis in one state and its sale in another.
This announcement marked a significant shift in federal cannabis policy, rivaling the impact of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. However, the effects of the announcement will not be immediate, as the administrative review of cannabis's federal status lacks a specific timetable and is unlikely to conclude in 2023. Furthermore, due to the prevalence of state-level cannabis convictions compared to federal convictions, most pardons would need to be pursued at the state rather than the federal level.
Congress achieved its first standalone cannabis-related reform in December by passing the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act (MMCREA). This bipartisan legislation facilitates further research into the medicinal applications of cannabis by removing federal research restrictions and expanding the cultivation of research-grade cannabis, which was previously exclusive to the University of Mississippi. The MMCREA also encourages the development of CBD and cannabis-based drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
We anticipate the reintroduction of several federal legalization bills in 2023. Congressional Democrats will likely reintroduce the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) in the Senate and the Marijuana Opportunity and Reinvestment (MORE) Act in the House. Both bills were introduced in previous legislative sessions and aimed to end the federal prohibition on cannabis.
Another bill expected to be reintroduced is the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which provides protections for financial institutions and various professional service firms engaging in business with state-legal cannabis enterprises. This bill has garnered bipartisan support and industry backing, having passed the House seven times, and is likely to receive significant attention.
Additionally, the States Reform Act (SRA) is a probable candidate for reintroduction, aiming to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level while granting states authority over prohibition and commercial regulation.
Yes, you can use cannabis in Vermont. The state permits the use of cannabis for both recreational and medical purposes, subject to specific restrictions. For adult users, the stipulated limit is 1 ounce of cannabis or its equivalent in other forms, while medical cannabis users are permitted to possess two ounces of medical cannabis. It is illegal to consume cannabis in public or a vehicle. Cannabis use is recommended for indoor locations.
The cannabis marketplace in Vermont is regulated by the Cannabis Control Board (CCB). The CCB is responsible for issuing cultivators, processors, and retailers licenses. The CCB also sets standards for the production, testing, and sale of cannabis products. To sell cannabis in Vermont, a business must first obtain a license from the CCB. Once a business has obtained a cannabis business license, it can begin selling cannabis products. However, certain restrictions exist on the sale of cannabis in Vermont. For example, businesses are not allowed to sell cannabis to minors, and they are not allowed to sell cannabis for on-premises consumption. Also, no cannabis retailer must sell more quantities of cannabis or cannabis products exceeding the THC concentration caps stipulated under state law to buyers.
To buy medical cannabis in the state, you must have a Vermont medical marijuana card and a valid government-issued photo ID. If you plan to purchase adult-use cannabis from any of the state's recreational cannabis dispensaries, you must have a government-issued photo ID to prove you are 21.
Vermont's laws establish different penalties for marijuana-related offenses, considering factors such as the amount of marijuana involved in the offense. Some of these offenses include:
Note that these penalties may increase if aggravating circumstances exist at the time of the offense
Possible remedies you may consider when arrested or convicted for a cannabis violation in Vermont include contesting the legality of your search, claiming your rights were violated or presented evidence was fabricated, plea bargain, or drug treatment programs. However, due to the specific circumstances of your case, the options available may differ. Therefore, it is recommended that you seek to hire the services of an experienced attorney.
Also, cannabis regulations can be complex and may also change over time. Hence, by securing the services of an experienced lawyer with a deep understanding of Vermont laws to represent you, you can ensure that your legal rights are protected and the best remedies are pursued in your case.
Individuals who violate cannabis laws in Vermont risk the seizure or confiscation of their assets via a procedure known as civil asset forfeiture. This legal mechanism allows law enforcement to take properties they suspect are involved in criminal activities. This may include properties used for producing, selling, or possessing cannabis. Per Section 832, Title 7 of the Vermont Statutes, cannabis possessed unlawfully may be seized by law enforcement and subject to forfeiture.
In 1914 Vermont enacted "An act to regulate the sale of opium, morphine, and other narcotics drugs," which encompassed the prohibition of cannabis possession and sale. Then, in 1947, Vermont adopted the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act, imposing a mandatory prison sentence of 1 to 5 years for violators.
The federal landscape also played a pivotal role in shaping Vermont's cannabis laws. With the Controlled Substances Act becoming law in 1970, marijuana was named a Schedule I drug. However, as the years unfolded, Vermont embraced a more progressive stance. In 1978, the state legislature introduced H.669, a landmark bill to decriminalize cannabis. This legislation aimed to spare individuals possessing small quantities of marijuana for personal use from arrests, criminal prosecution, and harsh penalties.
Recognizing the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis, Vermont established the Cannabis Therapeutic Research Program in 1981. This program allowed physicians to prescribe cannabis to cancer patients and others under specific guidelines. The Department of Health became the sole distributor of cannabis to authorized physicians for distribution to patients.
The path toward medical cannabis legalization continued in 2001 when the Vermont House passed a bill to allow patients with recognized medical conditions to possess and cultivate cannabis. Although the bill did not advance beyond the Senate Committee on Judiciary, a Medical Marijuana Study Committee was subsequently formed to explore implementing a medical cannabis program.
Finally, in 2004, Vermont legalized medical cannabis by adopting S76. This legislation established a registry within the Department of Public Safety for patients and approved caregivers to possess and cultivate medical cannabis. Subsequent legislation in 2011 removed the patient cap and authorized the operation of up to four medical cannabis dispensaries. The tide of change continued in 2013 with the passage of HB 200, which decriminalized the possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis for individuals aged 21 and older. The offense was treated as a civil penalty akin to a traffic ticket, mitigating the impact on individuals caught with small quantities.
In 2016, Vermont enacted S.14 to enhance the state's medical cannabis law. This bill broadened the qualifying conditions to include glaucoma and chronic pain while reducing the required provider-patient relationship period. Further progress was made in 2017 when Governor Phil Scott signed S.16 into law. This legislation expanded access to Vermont's medical cannabis program by adding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson's disease, and Crohn's disease as qualifying conditions. It also allowed for an additional dispensary and permitted existing dispensaries to open additional locations.
January 2018 marked a significant milestone with the passage of Act 86, also known as H. 511. Governor Phil Scott enacted this law, eliminating penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana for individuals aged 21 and older. The law decriminalized the possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana and permitted the cultivation of a limited number of marijuana plants for personal use.
The culmination of Vermont's cannabis journey arrived in 2020 when recreational cannabis sales were legalized. Governor Phil Scott allowed S.54 to become law without his signature. This law allowed for the establishment of a regulated adult-use cannabis market, allowing localities to opt-in for retail establishments. It also emphasized equity by giving special consideration to small-scale cultivators and businesses owned by persons such as women and people of color. To oversee the cannabis market, the law mandated the creation of a Cannabis Control Board and an advisory board.
Vermont imposes the following restriction on cannabis: