Cannabis becomes legal for adults; advocates continue push for regulated retail markets
Last update: January 4, 2019
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 eight 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.
MPP and its allies are continuing the push for a sensibly regulated system for cannabis production and sale. A study commission on marijuana legalization and regulation met from fall 2017 until late 2018, pursuant to an executive order signed by the governor. The commission published its final report in December 2018. The commission included subcommittees, which were tasked with looking at one of three specific issue areas: roadway safety, education and prevention, and taxation and regulation.
New legislation to tax and regulate cannabis is expected to be introduced when the legislature convenes in early January. Urge your Vermont lawmakers to support legislation to regulate cannabis in 2019!
We are very grateful to our allies in the legislature for their votes in support of ending marijuana prohibition, and we’d especially like to thank Laura Subin, the Necrason Group, and all our allies at the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana for their hard work.
Medical cannabis program continues to develop
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, an MPP-supported 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.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Vermont, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.