(Last update: February 11, 2020)
Medical Marijuana: Yes
Recreational Marijuana: No
In-Home Cultivation: Yes
Vermonters enjoy legal home-grown cannabis; bill to regulate retail sales passes Senate, advances in House
After successfully legalizing possession and cultivation of cannabis for adults 21 and older in 2018, reform advocates in Vermont are working to finish what they started in 2020 by passing S. 54, a bill to regulate and tax cannabis sales. On February 28, 2019, the Vermont Senate voted 23-5 in favor of the bill. On May 2, the House Government Operations Committee approved it in a 10-1 vote. Unfortunately, the House adjourned in May without completing its work on the bill and bringing it to a vote.
As promised, the House resumed its work on S. 54 soon after the 2020 session began. The Government Operations Committee tweaked the bill in January and passed it in a unanimous vote on January 31. The House Ways and Means Committee passed it in an 8-3 vote on February 5.
Click here for a summary of the bill, which is expected to receive a vote in the full House in February.
On January 22, 2018, Gov. Phil Scott signed H. 511, a bill legalizing possession and limited cultivation of cannabis by adults 21 and older. It took effect on July 1, 2018. Although nine other states had legalized marijuana by ballot initiative, this was the first time any state legislature legalized for adults’ use through the legislative process rather than by a vote of the people. Click here to read a summary of the law.
Medical cannabis laws have improved over time
On June 8, 2017, Gov. Phil Scott signed S. 16, a bill that significantly improved patients’ access to Vermont’s medical marijuana program. The bill added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease to the list of qualifying conditions. It also authorized an additional dispensary (bringing the statewide total to five), and it allowed existing dispensaries to open one additional location each. When the patient registry reaches 7,000, a sixth dispensary (which can also have a second location) will be authorized.
You can read a complete summary of the bill here.
In 2016, the Vermont Legislature and then-Gov. Peter Shumlin agreed to improve the medical marijuana law by passing S. 14, a bill that enables patients with glaucoma or chronic pain to qualify for the program. (Previously, the standard was “severe pain,” a much higher standard than “chronic pain.”) The new law also reduced the required minimum provider-patient relationship period from six months to three months and included other small, yet positive, changes.
In 2014, MPP worked with the legislature to expand Vermont’s law so more patients can benefit from safe, legal access. S. 247, sponsored by Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham), passed the House and Senate and was signed by Gov. Shumlin May 27. This change in law eliminated the cap of 1,000 patients who were allowed to access dispensaries. It also allowed naturopaths to certify patients, allowed dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients, and called for a study of the potential impacts of legalization and regulation. To view the rules for the Vermont Marijuana Program (VMP), please visit the Vermont Criminal Information Center website.