On Sunday, Vermont became the latest state to enact a recreational cannabis program. Gov. Phil Scott signed legislation to legalize cannabis back on Jan. 22, with “mixed emotions,” but July 1 marked the first day of legal cannabis operations.
Vermont became the first state to legalize recreational cannabis last January though its state legislature, rather than put the issue to the vote on a ballot.
Adults may possess up to one ounce of cannabis and are permitted to grow up to two mature plants and four immature plants. Drivers and passengers will be banned from smoking in cars, and smoking will be banned at the popular tourist destination, Lake Champlain, and also at beaches, parks and sidewalks.
The law doesn’t provide regulations for recreational dispensaries, but a medical cannabis dispensary in Leicester could receive a provisional license to sell recreational cannabis in addition to medical cannabis. Sira Naturals is the only company in the state to be awarded a recreational license to cultivate cannabis, however even that company still needs local approval.
The governor admitted that state residents won’t see any major changes at first. “I’m not sure that we’re going to see a sea change here,” Scott said on Thursday. “I think a lot of what I was reacting to was what’s happening today so I’m not sure that we’re going to see anything different come Monday than we were seeing yesterday. Well, except for maybe Sunday.”
Now that the west coast of the United States has completely legalized cannabis, states in the New England area, such as Massachusetts and Maine, have embraced recreational cannabis as well and the area is moving in that direction.
Without a commercial cannabis market in Vermont, obtaining cannabis will remain in the gray area for the time being. The only way adults in Vermont can legally obtain cannabis is by growing it themselves.
There are now nine states, plus the District of Columbia, that have legalized recreational cannabis.