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Vermont Legislature
Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

Permission To Grow Your Own: The Specifics On Vermont's Marijuana Bill

Marijuana plants
The marijuana bill passed by the Vermont House and Senate, and now headed to Gov. Scott, would allow for growing two mature plants and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana.

The Legislature is sending a marijuana bill (H.511) to Gov. Phil Scott for his signature, which would make Vermont the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislative process.

Now exactly what does the bill allow you to do?
More from VPR: Vermont Senate Passes Marijuana Legalization Bill, Which Now Heads To Gov. Scott

We hear from state Sen. Chris Pearson and state Rep. Selene Colburn about how much pot and hashish you can possess and about where you can and can't smoke it. Plus we'll get clarification on how many mature and immature plants you can grow.

So what is included in the bill?

You can listen to the conversation above, but below is a rundown of what we learned from looking at the bill and from our conversation with Colburn and Pearson.

Overview: The law would go into effect on July 1, 2018 and it would allow adults age 21 years old and over to possess, cultivate and consume marijuana — according to state law. Note: even if Vermont legalizes at the state level, marijuana remains against federal law.

Growing marijuana plants: Colburn confirmed that the bill allows for the growing of up to four immature plants AND up to two mature plants — so in theory, you could have six plants at any given time, so long as only two are mature. So what is a mature plant? Pearson says a mature plant is one that is flowering.

And the number of allowable plants is per living unit (not per adult in the unit). And Colburn says because "the bill really ties cultivation to a dwelling unit," that means that a community garden plot would not be a viable option for a place to grow your marijuana plants. Pearson adds the bill also says plants need to be grown "in a secure spot," so that parameter wouldn’t include community gardens.

“The cultivation has to occur in [an] enclosed location that can only be accessed by the cultivator or by individuals 21 years or older that they’ve granted permission to access the site,” Colburn added, clarifying that an enclosure doesn’t necessarily mean indoors.

But if you want to start growing, take note: “This step does not contemplate where folks could find seeds or pick up starter plants,” says Pearson of the bill.

Amounts of possession: The bill also allows for personal possession of 1 ounce of marijuana — but there’s a clarification to make there if you are growing your own plants.

“You may possess whatever your two plants produce, as long as you keep that marijuana in a secure place and in/on your premises where you’ve been growing. So if you, let’s say, your plants produced 4 ounces, you could have 3 ounces sort of secured there with your facility or in your house. And then for some reason you were going camping or on vacation, you could leave with up to an ounce in your personal possession,” Pearson explains.

In other words: “If you’re not growing your own marijuana then you would be, under this law, able to possess 1 ounce — and no more,” Pearson said.

Hashish: When it comes to hashish, the bill says you’re only allowed to have 5 grams on you (so less than 1 ounce).

Production: Per the bill, it is okay to make edibles; however using butane or hexane to do chemical extraction is not allowed (and Pearson notes that much of that provision has to do with "the safety of that process").

Medical marijuana: Colburn says that this bill doesn’t mean you can just get marijuana at a medical dispensary — you would still need to be a patient in the state’s medical marijuana program in order to do that.

“So this really allows for home grow and just possession,” clarifies Colburn. “It doesn’t create any kind of retail market for Vermonters.”

Possible gifting: “I don’t think there is any limit on gifting as long as the possession, you know, is within the limits of the law — so an ounce. An ounce is an acceptable gift, I believe,” Colburn says.

Where you can smoke: Colburn explains that the bill tried to parallel the rules surrounding tobacco smoke as far as where it is permitted in indoor locations, and as far as the outdoors, it’s not allowed to be consumed in any public spaces.

Colburn adds employers and landlords are able to set terms for what is or is not allowed in terms of using marijuana on premises.

Vehicle rules: The bill states you cannot smoke marijuana while operating a vehicle, nor are you allowed to operate a vehicle while a passenger is smoking in it (which Pearson points out is similar to the rules around alcohol).

Schools: Marijuana would never be permitted on school campuses or daycare/afterschool facilities — even after hours.

Broadcast Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
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