Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction

Cannabis in Vermont as of May 2004 is legal for medical use, and legal for recreational use as of July 1, 2018.


Prohibition (1915)[edit]

As part of a larger trend of restricting cannabis in the early 20th century, Vermont banned the drug in 1915.[1]

Medical use (2004)[edit]

On May 19, 2004, Vermont legalized medical cannabis when Governor James Douglas announced he would allow Senate Bill 76 to pass without his signature.[2] The law was further expanded in June 2007 when Senate Bill 7 passed without Governor Douglas' signature once again.[3]

Decriminalization (2013)[edit]

On June 6, 2013, Governor Peter Shumlin signed HB200 which decriminalized the possession of 1 ounce or less to a civil infraction.[4]


Vermont has taken legalization plans into consideration as early as 2014. With no initiative process in Vermont, legalization efforts went through the state legislature and had to either be approved by the governor, or be veto-proof.[5]


In 2014, Governor Shumlin stated his support for a tax-and-regulate system for cannabis.[6] A Rand Corporation study commissioned by the state in May 2014 and released in January 2015 stated that Vermont could gain $20 million and $75 million a year in tax revenue, but noted too that these sums would be vulnerable to either federal interference, or market competition if a neighboring state were also to legalize; in the latter case, Rand stated, "It is not clear that Vermont has any long-run comparative advantage in hosting the industry."[7]


In April 2015, as a form of political theatre, two state representatives facetiously introduced HB502, which would re-illegalize alcohol, giving it penalties equivalent to those for cannabis.[8]

In 2015, Senate Bill 95 and House bill 277 were submitted, proposing a regulated system of legal recreational cannabis sales, however neither bill passed during the 2015 legislative session.[9]


In May 2017, the Vermont House approved a bill to allow personal possession, use, and cultivation of cannabis but not commercial sales by a 74–68 vote, while the Vermont Senate in April approved a broader bill allowing cannabis commercial sale by a 21-9 vote. On May 10, 2017, a joint bill formerly concerning fentanyl was amended to legalize cannabis, and approved by the entire state legislature, for the first time in U.S. history.[10] The bill, titled S.22 "An act relating to increased penalties for possession, sale, and dispensation of fentanyl", was amended to allow possession of an ounce of cannabis under title 18 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated.[11][12] On May 24, Governor Phil Scott vetoed the bill, and reconsideration was blocked in June by the minority party during a one-day "veto session" of the legislature.[5][13]

The state house voted on January 4, 2018 to pass H.511, an amended version of the 2017 bill.[14][15][16] The bill legalized adult personal possession of one ounce of cannabis and allows individuals to cultivate two plants.[17] The senate passed the bill by voice vote on January 10, 2018, and Governor Phil Scott allowed it to pass on January 22, by neither signing nor vetoing, becoming "An act relating to eliminating penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older"; its provisions have taken effect as of July 1, 2018.[5][18][19]

Regulated sales[edit]

The 2018 act has no sales or revenue provisions. Some legislators said they would move towards a future tax-and-regulate plan which is being studied by the governor's Marijuana Advisory Commission with a report due in 2019.[17] The legislature failed to create a tax-and-regulate system in the 2018 session.[20][21] Regulated sales entered into law in October 2020 when S.54 went into effect.[22] State licensed medical cannabis dispensaries began selling to adults on May 1, 2022, and retailers began selling to adults in October 2022.[23]


  1. ^ Nancy E. Marion; Willard M. Oliver (December 16, 2014). Drugs in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law [3 volumes]: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law. ABC-CLIO. pp. 726–. ISBN 978-1-61069-596-1.
  2. ^ "Vermont Approves Amended Medical Marijuana Measure". May 20, 2004. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  3. ^ "Vermont Expands State Medi-Pot Law - Legislatures In Connecticut, Rhode Island Also Endorse Medical Cannabis". June 7, 2007. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  4. ^ "Gov. Shumlin signs bill decriminalizing possession of limited amounts of marijuana | The Official Website of the Governor of Vermont". June 6, 2013. Archived from the original on June 10, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Wilson Ring (January 2, 2018), Vermont lawmakers to take up marijuana legalization again as early as this week: Last year's bill remains active and can be voted on as early as Thursday, The Associated Press – via The Cannabist
  6. ^ Peter Hirschfeld (July 7, 2015). "With Shumlin's Time Short, Legalization Proponents Look To Move Quickly".
  7. ^ "The risk and revenue of legalizing pot in Vermont". Burlington Free Press. January 16, 2015.
  8. ^ "Vermont Reps: You Won't Give Us Pot, We'll Take Away Your Booze". Huffington Post. April 16, 2015.
  9. ^ "Little chance seen for VT legalizing pot this year". Burlington Free Press. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  10. ^ Peter Hirschfeld (May 10, 2017), Vermont House Approves Marijuana Legalization, Bill Now Goes To Gov. Scott, Vermont Public Radio
  11. ^ Vermont legislature approves marijuana legalization bill, Reuters, May 10, 2017, retrieved May 14, 2017
  12. ^ S.22 roll call vote record, Vermont Legislature, retrieved May 14, 2017
  13. ^ Laurel Wamsley (May 24, 2017), "Vermont's Governor Vetoes Recreational Pot Bill", The Two-Way, NPR
  14. ^ H.511 status, Vermont legislature. Accessed January 10, 2018
  15. ^ Brandon Carter (January 4, 2018), "Vermont House votes to legalize marijuana", The Hill
  16. ^ Tyler Dumont; Kyle Midura (January 4, 2018), Vermont House passes bill to legalize pot, Burlington, Vermont: WCAX-TV
  17. ^ a b Bob Kinzel (January 9, 2017), Backers Of A Tax-And-Regulate Marijuana Legalization Bill Vow To Push On For Their Plan, Vermont Public Radio
  18. ^ Bob Kinzel (January 10, 2017), Vermont Senate Passes Marijuana Legalization Bill, Which Now Heads To Gov. Scott, Vermont Public Radio
  19. ^ Alicia Wallace (January 22, 2018), "Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signs marijuana legalization bill "with mixed emotions"", The Cannabist, The Denver Post
  20. ^ Peter Hirschfeld (April 27, 2018), After Showing Signs Of Life, Bill To Tax And Regulate Marijuana Dead For 2018, Vermont Public Radio
  21. ^ Bill to tax and regulate marijuana sales dies in Vermont house, Associated Press, April 28, 2018 – via US News
  22. ^ Actions taken by Governor Scott on bills during the 2020 legislative session (press release), Office of the Governor of Vermont, October 7, 2020
  23. ^ "No. 164. An act relating to the regulation of cannabis" (PDF). October 7, 2020.

Further reading[edit]