Midweek Marijuana Law Review: What is Marijuana?

What is Marijuana?

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer. This piece is purely for informational purposes regarding Act 86, a Vermont bill that pertains only to Vermont and has no bearing on federal law. 

Easy question right? Not when your dealing with VT legislature. In order to lay the groundwork for further MMLR’s, it’s important that we know what Vermont means when it says “marijuana.”

Let’s take a look at the actual text of the law:

(15)(A) “Marijuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis Sativa L., except as provided by subdivision (B) of this subdivision (15), whether growing or harvested, and includes:  

(i) the seeds of the plant;

(ii) the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and

(iii) any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or resin.

(B) “Marijuana” does not include:

(i) the mature stalks of the plant and fiber produced from the stalks;

(ii) oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant;

(iii) any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks, fiber, oil, or cake;

(iv) the sterilized seed of the plant that is incapable of germination; or

(v) hemp or hemp products, as defined in 6 V.S.A. § 562.

Leave it to the legislature to pepper their technical definition of marijuana with more technical definitions.


“Cannabis Sativa L.” (Wait, so this law only applies to sativa strains?) No, in this case sativa isn’t referring to a specific type of marijuana, but the plant as a whole; Cannabis Sativa L. refers to all marijuana that produces flowers that when cured and consumed have psychoactive effects.** In this definition, too, marijuana both means the plant itself and cured buds.

A Cannabis Sativa L. flower in the initial stages. This and the resinous leaves around the flower would be considered “marijuana.”

(i) The seeds of the plant- This just refers to seeds from Cannabis Sativa L. plants that still have the potential of germinating.

(ii) The resin extracted from any part of the plant- Resin in this case could refer to post-consumption resin, hashish, or other forms of concentrates containing cannabinoid compounds that aren’t limited to cannabidiol (CBD).   

(iii) Any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plants, its seeds, or resin. Take this to mean edible forms of marijuana, tinctures, teas, etc.


Most of this subsection has to do with the stalks of mature marijuana plants, and hemp products  as defined by the legislature to be all products made from industrial hemp, including but not limited to cloth, cordage, fiber, food, fuel, paint, paper, particle board, plastics, seed, seed meal, seed oil, and certified seed for cultivation if such seeds originate from industrial hemp varieties.

So what is marijuana?

To sum it up: in VT, “marijuana” is classified as viable cannabis seed (not from hemp), the psychoactive flower, and any derivative that makes use of the flower’s psychoactive compounds.

The meticulous distinctions are important, they help draw a clear line between a mind-altering substance and the agricultural staple, hemp which comes with its own set of rules and regulations separate from Act 86.

Next week in our Midweek Marijuana Law Review we’ll take a look at how much marijuana you’ll be allowed to possess before facing civil and criminal penalties.

Humulus Lupulus or Hops CC. 2.0 by Epic Beer



**Fun fact for you taxonomy-lovers: Cannabis Sativa L. is part of the Cannabaceae Family. Humulus Lupulus, another plant whose flowers are responsible for adult beverages, is also a member of the Cannabaceae family though in a different genus.  Humulus Lupulus is commonly known as Hops– that’s right– the same hops that are essential in making beer.

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