Last year, Vermont established its place as an upcoming market in the US cannabis industry after it became the 11th state to regulate recreational sales and the second to do so legislatively and not by voter initiative.
In October 2020, Gov. Phil Scott allowed S 54 to become law without his signature. While a bit overdue since the Green Mountain State had already legalized adult use in 2018, the move was nevertheless highly anticipated by marijuana activists since it will greatly contribute to a domino effect among Northeastern states.
While the legislation is set to take effect this February, state regulators still have until October 2022 to start issuing licenses for retailers which means sales are may be as far as two years away. Nevertheless, residents are already allowed to grow their own and even receive up to an ounce as a gift. This “gifting” loophole has been used for years by buyers and weed businesses disguising themselves as delivery services that share “free marijuana” with other products and services.
This article was reviewed and updated for 2021.
Overview of Cannabis Growing Laws in Vermont
Cultivation of both medical and recreational marijuana is allowed under Vermont marijuana laws. Sadly, the state has one of the least generous cultivation limits.
- All residents 21 and older are allowed to grow up to 2 mature plants and 4 immature ones (without flowers or buds).
- Medical marijuana cardholders of legal age are allowed to grow up to 2 mature plants and 7 immature ones.
- These limits apply to every grow site regardless of the number of adults living there.
This was last updated in June 2020. We will be updating this guide with new developments that may come out.
Punishments for Violating Vermont’s Home Grow Laws
Vermont’s marijuana laws are very clear as to what the penalties are in store for violators:
- Those who are caught growing more than 2 mature plants and 4 immature ones will get a prison sentence of up to six months or a maximum fine of $500, or both. Second offenders will get up to two years and a maximum fine of $2,000, or both.
- More than 4 mature plants and 8 immature ones get a prison sentence of up to 3 years or a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.
- More than 6 mature plants and 12 immature ones, a prison sentence of up to 5 years or a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.
- More than 12 mature plants and 24 immature ones, a prison sentence of up to 15 years or a maximum fine of $500,000, or both.
History of marijuana in Vermont
Vermont was one of the first to ban cannabis in 1915 during the prohibition wave in the early 20th century. Like most other states at that time, it also adopted the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act in 1947 but it was also one of the first to reduce penalties around 20 years later, dropping simple possession to a misdemeanor punishable by 6 months imprisonment.
The Green Mountain State continued to take an accommodating stance towards marijuana well into the 70’s with the legislature deeming arrests, criminal prosecutions, and penalties at that time to be too harsh for the mere possession of small amounts.
Things began to pick up for medical marijuana when the Vermont Cannabis Therapeutic Research Program was established in 1981. Around the same time, the state raised penalties for possession and sale of recreational weed once again because of the “Just Say No” campaign which was part of the federal government’s War on Drugs. Nevertheless, lawmakers kept an open mind about the benefits of medical marijuana and in 2004 approved Senate Bill 76 or the “Act Relating to Marijuana Use by Persons with Severe Illness. However, it took a few more years before dispensaries were allowed to provide for a maximum of 1000 registered patients. Decriminalization of possession of an ounce or less followed soon after in 2013.
Finally, in 2018, Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed H. 511 which legalized the consumption, but not the sale, of adult-use marijuana in the state. The governor said that although he had “mixed feelings” about the legislation, adults are ultimately free to do whatever they want within their private property as long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children.
This year, marijuana activists are looking forward to a turning point in Vermont marijuana laws that are likely to make a considerable impact on cannabis policies of other Northeastern states. The Vermont Senate already approved a bill that reduces the possession of a third or fourth plant to a misdemeanor punishable only by a $100 fine and no jail time. Last October 2020, Gov. Phil Scott also allowed S 54, a bill for the regulation and taxation cannabis sales, to become law without his signature.
Growing Medical Marijuana in Vermont
At present, all residents 21 and over may grow 2 mature cannabis plants and 4 immature ones. While registered medical marijuana growers are also limited to growing two mature plants, there do have other advantages such as:
- A cultivation limit of 7 immature plants.
- A greater possession limit of up to 2 ounces.
- Permission to buy marijuana, seeds, and clones from dispensaries.
Patients with debilitating medical conditions and their caregivers are allowed to register in the program but only those aged 21 and up are allowed to cultivate. Here’s a list of requirements applicants need to submit for their registration:
- A clear photo
- A completed Healthcare Professional Verification Form
- For patients with PTSD, a completed Mental Health Care Provider Form
Patients and their designated caregivers then need to completely fill out the registration form and mail it to the Department of Public Safety – Marijuana Registry. New patients will also have to create a new account and pay the $50 fee either online or by money order.
Marijuana home cultivation laws outside of Vermont
How does Vermont’s marijuana laws compare with home growing laws in other US states? Check out our post on Marijuana Growing Laws in the United States.
FAQs about growing marijuana in Vermont
Yes, it is legal to cultivate recreational cannabis at home in Vermont.
All residents 21 and older are allowed to grow up to 2 mature plants and 4 immature ones (without flowers or buds). These limits apply to every grow site regardless of the number of adults living there.
Yes, it is legal to cultivate medical cannabis at home in Vermont.
Registered patients and their caregivers may grow at home up to 2 mature cannabis plants and 7 immature ones for medical purposes. These limits apply to every grow site regardless of the number of adults living there.
On your property, in a locked space where your plants can be kept away from public view.
Residents, patients and their caregivers must be at least 21 years old to be able to cultivate cannabis at home legally in Vermont.
While Vermont is able to keep up with other pro-weed states in terms of marijuana reform, it’s cultivation laws certainly leave a lot to be desired. At present, Vermont marijuana laws are probably the most restrictive among states that allow recreational growing. In addition to this, non-cardholders also have no choice but to go on the gray market to buy seeds and weed since it may take at least two years before adult-use dispensaries begin operations. In the meantime, home growers need to be aware of the following:
- The number of plants that can be grown per household is fixed at 2 mature plants and 4 immature ones (7 for medical marijuana cardholders), regardless of the number of adults living there.
- Marijuana plants are to be grown in a secured indoor area away from public view.
- Gifting up to an ounce is allowed.
- Never give or sell marijuana to a minor. Only designated caregivers are allowed to give marijuana to minor patients.