Vermont Marijuana: What Should Renters And Landlords Know About The New Law

Photo Credit: Nicole Higgins Desmet

The legalization of recreational marijuana is looming, and many Vermonters are stocking up on growing supplies.

But if you’re one of the state’s approximately 75,000 renters, you’ll need to check with your landlord before you start planting.

The bill that Gov. Phil Scott signed into law in January allows adults to grow marijuana plants at home, “on property lawfully in possession of the cultivator or with the written consent of the person in lawful possession of the property.”

A person growing marijuana without their landlord’s written consent can be subject to a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.

The law limits marijuana use to “individual dwellings,” and prohibits consuming marijuana on any street, alley, park or sidewalk as well as places like hotel rooms, restaurants, workplaces and stores.

The law also permits landlords to ban the use and possession of marijuana on their properties.

If your landlord gives the all-clear: The plants will need to be in a secure enclosure that is screened from public view. Your electric bill might grow alongside your plants: a 150-watt growing light running 18 hours a day can add about $15 to your bill at Green Mountain Power’s residential rate.

Some landlords and landlord groups have expressed concerns about sloppy growing set-ups leading to increased fire risk or mold.

An additional wrinkle for some tenants: The United States government has not legalized marijuana, making it off-limits for people who rely on federal subsidies like Section 8 vouchers to pay for housing.

The Burlington Housing Authority, which manages Section 8 vouchers for the Chittenden County area, began warning residents earlier this spring.

Even if it’s legal to cultivate and possess under state law, it’s considered a violation of the program and could be the basis for termination, Janet Green says. Green manages the housing authority’s Section 8 program.

Close to 4,500 people in 2,100 homes in the Chittenden County area rely on federal money for housing.

Unsure if your lease allows you to grow marijuana? The nonprofit Vermont Law Help recommends talking to your landlord or housing authority—or you can contact them via their website.