Cannabis Legalization in the Northeast US: Updates on Vermont and Massachusetts

Recreational/adult-use Marijuana Now Legal in Vermont, and Massachusetts Rolls out Its Program On July 1st.

Vermont became the ninth state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana and the first state in the country to do so through its legislature when Vermont Governor, Phil Scott, signed the law in January 2018.

However, aspects of Vermont’s legalization process remain ambiguous; authorities say things will become clear on a case-by-case basis. For example, while it is legal to possess up to 1 ounce, it’s unclear how police will enforce the rule with edibles, the Burlington Free Press reported.

The law is also vague about public versus private usage as well as how private cannabis grows must be secured.

Despite confusion over technicalities, industry employees say they’re already seeing increased interest in their businesses.

“We definitely have seen a ramp up in interest and very excited after today to introduce this hobby, this therapeutic and recreational hobby to a whole host of new people," Kelsy Raap, manager of Green State Gardener, told the Burlington Free Press.

Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman told local television station WCAX that Vermont is changing its “laws to reflect what's happening in society.” He pointed out that people have been consuming cannabis illegally for a long time, and criminalization has negatively impacted people’s lives, especially in communities of color.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts, recreational marijuana can be legally sold, taxed, and consumed, finally. But, where and how to purchase it is still up in the air.

Legal retail sales still haven’t been worked out.

People in the industry, reports the Lowell Sun, say legal sales could be as far away as early 2019, though many are hoping for a slow roll-out over the coming six months.

"We don't know when it will be," said Tom Schneider, chief marketing officer at Revolutionary Clinics, which runs a medical marijuana cultivation facility. "It's day-to-day."

But, there's no shortage of businesses applying for other types of permits. A list compiled by the Cannabis Control Commission showed it had received complete applications for 22 cultivators, two microbusinesses, 15 product manufacturers, three research facilities, 18 retailers and one transporter.

If bureaucracy and cannabis enthusiasm could get in synch, things might move quicker in Massachusetts.

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