Vermont’s Legislative Assembly is still grappling with what cannabis law to espouse, and at present, medical marijuana is legal in the state, while recreational use of marijuana is still illegal, though the possession of small amount of marijuana has been decriminalized within the state.
Medical Marijuana Laws of Vermont
The medical marijuana law of Vermont was proposed first in 2003 in the senate as Senate Bill 76 and was approved with a vote of 22-7. A similar House Bill 645 was likewise approved. On the 26th of May of 2004, Governor James Douglas permits the Act which would legalize the medical use of marijuana for qualifying persons with serious debilitating conditions to be passed without signing it, and it had its effectivity on July 1, 2004.
Drug Possession Laws of Vermont
Although marijuana recreational use in the state is prohibited, Governor Peter Shumlin in 2013 signed the House Bill 200 which decriminalizes possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. There were moves in the Legislative Body of the state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Hence, to determine whether the state of Vermont would benefit from such legalization, Governor Shumlin directed a commission to study the proposal. The findings of the commission were however unclear on whether Vermont would benefit or not from the legalization of marijuana in the long run. Senate Bill 95 together with House Bill 277 were then submitted in 2015, but neither bills were passed.
In 2017, the House passed and approved a bill that would allow the personal use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana; the senate likewise passed and approved a broader bill that would permit cannabis sale. Moreover, a joint bill on Fentanyl was amended to legalize marijuana, and this bill which was named S.22 was approved by the Legislature. However, Governor Phil Scott vetoed the said bill. Hence, at present, the state still prohibits the recreational use of marijuana. Here are the offenses and penalties for the violations of state laws on marijuana:
- If you are caught with 1 ounce or less (first offense), you will be fined with $200, and you’ll get a civil violation. Subsequent offenses of the same nature are still considered as civil infractions, with fines of $300 and $500 respectively.
- If you are caught with 1 to 2 oz (first offense), you will be charged with misdemeanor, plus 6 months of imprisonment, and maximum fine of $500. For subsequent offense, you will be charged with misdemeanor, 2 years of imprisonment, and up to $2,000 fine.
- For 2 oz to 1 lb, you will be charged with felony. 3 years of imprisonment, and maximum fine of $10,000.
- For 1 to 10 lbs, you will be charged with felony. 5 years of imprisonment, and $100,000 maximum fine.
- For 10 or more, you will be charged with felony, 15 years of imprisonment, and maximum fine of $500,000.
The sale of marijuana is illegal in the state and these are the following punishments and penalties for selling marijuana:
- For less than 1/2 oz, your charge will be misdemeanor, 2 years of imprisonment, and $10,000 maximum fine.
- For 1/2 to 1lb, you will be charged with felony, 5 years of imprisonment, and maximum fine of $100,000.
- For 1 to 50 lbs, your offense will be felony, 15 years of imprisonment, and $500,000 maximum fine.
- For more than 50 lbs, you will be charged with felony, 30 years of imprisonment, and maximum fine of $1,000,000.
The cultivation likewise of marijuana is strictly prohibited within the state, and the punishments and penalties usually range from misdemeanor, 6 months of imprisonment, and fine of $500 to felony, 15 years of imprisonment, and maximum fine of $500,000 depending on the number of plants you were caught cultivating.
Can Employers Require their Employees and Applicants to Undergo Drug Tests?
The policy of the state encourages drug-free workplace. Hence, employees who sell, possess, or use controlled substances while at workplace are definitely subject to civil and disciplinary penalties. The state likewise encourages drug-free workplaces; hence, employers may conduct drug tests in accordance to the following statutory requirements:
- If there is a reasonable suspicion that an employee is not able to perform his/her job because of drug use, employers can conduct random drug testing on the employee.
- If there is an accident that causes damage, injury, and death in the workplace, employers are permitted to conduct drug tests.
- Employers, however, should publish their anti-drug policy statement and provide their employees with a copy of their drug-testing policy.
- Employers likewise should continue to encourage a drug-free workplace by instituting drug-free awareness programs within the workplace.
- Employers should shoulder the costs of drug testing.
- The results of drug tests should be confidential.
- Confirmatory tests should be provided those who test positive on the first tests.
- Only those licensed and approved drug testing laboratories should conduct the drug tests.
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