About two weeks before possession of small amounts of marijuana become legal under state law, Vermont State Police don’t quite yet have all the answers to enforcement questions.
These questions include how they’re going to enforce the one-ounce marijuana limit when it comes to edibles, boundaries in public vs. private consumption and the rule that plants must be grown “in an enclosure that is screened from public view and is secure.”
Capt. Jim Whitcomb says troopers will need to work with local prosecutors on questions like these to gain clarity and build up case law after the new marijuana law takes effect July 1. Whitcomb said many of these situations will be looked at case-by-case.
The state law will make legal carrying less than 1 ounce of marijuana, less than 5 grams of hashish and two mature marijuana plants or four immature plants.
“The law is going to be developed in the way that enforcement occurs over months,” Whitcomb said.
Whitcomb, who is the state police’s staff operationscCommander, and Lt. John Flannigan, the safety programs director, held a roundtable discussion Tuesday morning with members of the media about the impact of recreational marijuana legalization on the agency’s operations.
A training bulletin about the new law has been provided to troopers which provides definitions, breaks down the violations and their consequences, and highlights of the laws that will remain unchanged. The bulletin has also been shared with sheriffs departments and chiefs of police departments throughout the state, Whitcomb said.
Whitcomb said Vermont State Police expect the training will be updated as time passes.
“It’s something that’s going to come back to us, case law is going to be developed, troopers are going to have to adapt as they always do in our enforcement role,” Whitcomb said. “It is certainly something we’re going to be revisiting on a regular basis.”
The law related to driving under the influence of marijuana will not change on July 1, Flannigan said. He anticipated at least 10 more drug recognition expert positions would open up, adding to the 50 experts in agencies statewide. Those experts are called to help evaluate any person suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, he said.
Training to detect marijuana for drug-sniffing dogs has also stopped, Whitcomb The smell of marijuana coming from a vehicle will will no longer be a reason to search a car as of July 1.