On July 1, Vermont’s new adult-use cannabis laws will go into effect, overlapping the state’s existing medical cannabis rules, the Burlington Free Press reports. Soon, Vermont’s some 6,000 patients will find themselves in a confusing mire of regulations with no clear government guidance.
“We need to figure out how to have two systems. Or for that matter, do we now need to have two systems?” — Rep. Ann Pugh, Chairperson of the House Committee on Human Services, via the Burlington Free Press
The two rule sets intersect in unfortunate ways, especially for patients. For example, under the new adult-use rules, the general public will be able to plant cannabis outdoors in an enclosed area with a property owner’s permission; medical patients, however, are only allowed three immature plants and all plants must be kept indoors. Additionally, the general public won’t have a legal way to buy cannabis — patients, however, have an existing dispensary system. Patients are also required to transport all cannabis in a locked container, but there is no such requirement for the general public.
The confusion seems to be driving people away from the MMJ registry. Lindsey Wells, the administrator of the medical marijuana program under Vermont’s Department of Public Safety, says the registry has stopped growing in recent months.
In March, the Vermont Senate passed a bill meant to modify the medical program to correct many of these issues, as well as open the registry to patients with any medical condition or symptom instead of a short list of approved conditions. Unfortunately, the bill never left the House Human Services Committee.
“To be perfectly honest, there were issues of greater importance to more Vermonters that came across from the Senate that we needed to deal with first.” — Rep. Ann Pugh, via Burlington Free Press
A bill introduced to the Vermont Senate in a special session attempts to correct many of the discrepancies between laws. The official legislative session ended May 13th, however. When the special session is concluded, the Senate will not operate again until January 2019. By that point — if no action is taken — Vermont will have spent more than six months with overlapping medical and adult-use cannabis rules.