On Monday, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed, in private, the state’s marijuana bill into law becoming the first in the country to authorize the recreational use of the substance by an act of legislature. When the law goes into effect July 1, it will claim Vermont as the ninth state in the country, along with Washington D.C., to approve the use of recreational marijuana. Though possession is allowed, there are limits under the law, many that are not commonly understood.

What are the limits for possession of marijuana under the law?

-Other than reaching the legal age of 21 years old, individuals can:
-Possess two ounces or less or marijuana
-Use marijuana on private property
-Transfer an ounce or less to another person who is of age, no form of exchange or payment made
-Possess smoking paraphernalia, including that of rolling papers, cigar wraps, pipe, or bong
-Cultivate up to six marijuana plants, but no more than three mature

For adults accustomed to the laws, it is reasonably known that the plants must be in a secure and enclosed environment, screened from public view. Though every matter and step could be taken with precaution, there are still people getting arrested for marijuana crimes, and this isn’t due to their exact fault per say, but more so on their limited knowledge on the subject. For instance, a person can still be arrested for:

-Possessing more than two ounces of marijuana
-Selling any amount of marijuana to another individual
-Operating a vehicle or machinery under the influence of marijuana
-Smoking, eating, or drinking marijuana, including holding or carrying paraphernalia filled with marijuana in any public spaces such as a street, sidewalk, alley, park, parking area, or any place to which the public is invited

The last point is the one that many arrests fall under- just because it is legal under state statues, doesn’t mean it is federally, and thus repercussions for public use, if caught, can lead to a load of confusion and misfortune to those individuals. Yes, it is for people to legally buy and use, but people who convicted for possessing more than the recommended amount, both cultivate and intake, can be imprisoned up to six months and fined unless they participate in a court diversion program. The penalties rise after continued offenses, and by the third an individual can face three years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine if convicted. In general, the marijuana laws list the limited use of the drug for “individual dwellings”, and as a rule of thumb: if you can’t smoke tobacco there, you definitely can’t smoke marijuana there either. Yet the marijuana laws are more restrictive, than that of tobacco, and this is mainly seen in the tourists from outside the legal recreational states.

For example: prior to the 2016 law change, tourists in Colorado were restricted to purchasing 7 grams or less, while Colorado residents could purchase up to 28 grams.  After the change, now both tourists and residents can purchase 28 grams in a single transaction.

Some medical marijuana laws are broader than others, with types of medical conditions that allow for treatment varying from state to state. Louisiana, West Virginia and a few other states allow only for cannabis-infused products, such as oils or pills. Other states have passed narrow laws allowing residents to possess cannabis only if they suffer from select rare medical illnesses.

Check out the states map below to get a better visual understanding: http://www.governing.com/gov-data/state-marijuana-laws-map-medical-recreational.html

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