VERMONT'S GARDENING EXPERIMENT

Vermont is renowned for gardening expertise. Recently the Green State Gardener Store in Burlington, Vermont has seen a rush of business. July 1, 2018, Vermont’s legislation, Bill H511, took effect. It allows residents over the age of 21 to cultivate cannabis for recreational use. The number of allowed plants is lower than many states, the better to cultivate that expertise perhaps. Two mature plants and four immature plants per household may be grown in a secure location including a fenced outdoor location.

The resident may also possess one ounce of cannabis or five grams of hash. Any sales of cannabis are banned. There are no dispensaries. The laws are silent on “gifting” and presumably that is where the necessary seeds would be procured. Any other source is indeterminate since cannabis is not supposed to cross state lines.

No public use of cannabis is allowed and no use near Lake Champlain or federal property. Sharing with a minor can mean fines and imprisonment. No use by a driver or passengers in a car is permitted. In addition, renters must seek specific written consent from a landlord before growing cannabis. Failing to do so can result in a fine of $100 to $500. Employers may still drug test and prohibit use in the workplace. A grow light for dim areas in the winter can easily add another $15.00 to the electricity bill.

With Canada allowing recreational use and sales beginning July1, 2018, and Massachusetts scheduling opening dispensary sales this summer, the pressure was on Vermont this year. Governor Phil Scott signed the legislation permitting recreational use on January 22, 2018 to go into effect also, July 1. He said he signed it with “mixed emotion”.

Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman, a member of the Vermont Progressive Party, does not share such reservations. He is a strong proponent of the cannabis program and the opportunities it will offer. These feelings are seconded by many in Vermont’s agricultural business sector. Zuckerman is anxious for a “tax-and-regulate”framework and concerned to avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides in the production of cannabis to insure a safe product. An effort this year to pass legislation to “tax-and-regulate” was vetoed by Governor Scott and tabled for consideration next year.

Vermont”s interest in the medical uses of marijuana, however, began early. In 1981 Vermont began the Cannabis Therapeutic Reach Program studying the effects of cannabis on serious illnesses. In 2004, Vermont legalized medical marijuana through the Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Act. It permitted patients to have two mature plants and as many as seven immature plants, grown in a locked indoor facility. Medical dispensaries were subsequently allowed but limited to four in the state.

To become part of the medical cannabis program, a resident must be seen by a health care professional for three months prior to the recommendation for medical cannabis. If the patient has a serious terminal illness, the waiting period can be waived. Patients may possess as much as two ounces and purchase that amount in a 30 day period. Prices are steep, running about $280.00 per ounce, but medical patients are on a sliding scale based upon ability to pay. How to combine regulations for a household with a medical user and a recreational user is problematic since laws for each are separate and have not yet been reconciled.

Nevertheless, local businesses have already begun adding the medicinal, non-psychoactive CBD cannabis component to a variety of products to ingest and apply. Long Trail Brewing Company has produced a CBD infused IPA beer using a CBD infused honey from Luce Farms. Monarch and the Milkweed store has made chocolate truffles with CBD blended into them. Yoga classes and spas have added CBD oil.

Most politicians agree that further steps towards a “tax-and-regulate” system are only a matter of time. The enthusiasm is present and the will follows.

A marketing and publishing professional and the Director of Publicity at GB Sciences, Liz Bianco monitors media activity and co-writes the “State of the States” on cannabis in America.


 

A consultant and co-author with Meredith Patterson of “Pillars of Brain Health” at BrainstormMindFitness.com, Pete Goodwin does research and co-writes the State of the States blog.


 

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