Vermont Becomes Ninth State To Legalize Marijuana, But Getting Pot Might Be Tricky

Photo Credit: ROBYN BECK

Vermont became the ninth U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana use on Monday after Republican Governor Phil Scott signed a bill legalizing possession of limited amounts of the drug.

The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, allows for possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana, two mature plants and up to four immature plants by anyone who is 21 and older.

It does not legalize trade of the drug and also does not allow for public consumption of pot.

“Today, with mixed emotions, I have signed H. 511,” Scott said in a statement. “I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children.”

The Vermont governor noted that he had vetoed an earlier version of the bill that would have allowed for commercial sales of the drug. He said a state commission would allow more time for a further study before permitting trade in recreational marijuana.

Scott said his decision to veto the prior bill “plainly expressed my reservations about a commercial system which depends on profit motive and market driven demand for its growth.”

So, with the sale of marijuana prohibited, where can residents of Vermont go to get it?

That’s where it gets a bit tricky, with officials providing little information on where law-abiding marijuana users will be able to get the drug starting July 1.

People are likely to be allowed to give marijuana seeds or plants to one another as gifts, Laura Subin, director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, told the Burlington Free Press.

Entrepreneurs have already looked to exploit the “gift” loophole in other states that do not permit the sale of pot.

In Washington, D.C., businesses have reportedly cropped up giving away marijuana and accepting “donations” for packaging and handling.

Without retail outlets, Vermont marijuana users will have to face the same hurdles as residents in D.C.

Once they do obtain plants or seeds, however, people over the age of 21 will be able to grow it in their own homes.

Scott said in his statement that “there must be comprehensive and convincing plans” in order for him to “begin to consider the wisdom of implementing a commercial ‘tax and regulate’ system for an adult marijuana market.”

“It is important for the General Assembly to know that—until we have a workable plan to address each of these concerns—I will veto any additional effort along these lines, which manages to reach my desk,” he added.