How much marijuana can you grow in VT and where can you do it?
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.
Last week we looked at personal possession; the limits, the difference between hash and marijuana, and a few exceptions to VT’s limits. In this week’s Midweek Marijuana Law Review we’ll be looking at VT’s limits to personal cultivation as laid out in Act 86. (To see the full text of Act 86 click here.)
- How much marijuana can you grow in VT?
- Where are you allowed to grow?
- Penalties if you grow outside of the parameters set by Vermont.
How much marijuana can you grow in VT?
4230e. (a)(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person 21 years of age or older who cultivates no more than two mature marijuana plants and four immature marijuana plants shall not be penalized or sanctioned in any manner by the State or any of its political subdivisions or denied any right or privilege under State law.
As with possession and consumption, you must be at least 21 to grow marijuana in VT. But what is this business about “mature” versus “immature? For that we jump back up to the State’s definition of marijuana.
4201 (43) “Immature marijuana plant” means a female marijuana plant that has not flowered and that does not have buds that may be observed by visual examination.
(44) “Mature marijuana plant” means a female marijuana plant that has flowered and that has buds that may be observed by visual examination.
(p. 4 Emphasis mine)
“…by visual examination.” That leaves a lot of grey area, and it would be wise to exercise a bit of caution. A marijuana plant enters the flowering stage anywhere between 6-12 weeks depending on environmental and light conditions and what is considered flowering or buds may differ from person to person. But technically speaking: when the plant begins to grow more leaves towards its top and you notice the formation of pistils, it’s flowering and could be considered a mature plant.
So you live with roommates and want to grow your own plants. That means six total plants for each of you, yes? Actually no, this question is addressed in the next section; the two mature and four immature limit actually applies to dwellings as a whole and doesn’t stack.
4230e. (a)(2) Each dwelling unit shall be limited to two mature marijuana plants and four immature plants regardless of how many persons 21 years of age or older reside in the dwelling unit….
Dwelling in this case is defined as a building or part of a building that is used a home, residence, or sleeping place by one or more persons. An apartment and all of its rooms would be considered a single dwelling, but an apartment complex’s units would each be considered their own dwellings.
Where can you grow marijuana in VT?
Someone of age can grow their own marijuana as long as it is:
4230b. (b)(1)(A) On a property lawfully in possession of the cultivator or with the written consent of the person in lawful possession of the property; and
(b)(1)(B) in an enclosure that is screened from public view and is secure so that access is limited to the cultivator and persons 21 years of age or older who have permission from the cultivator.
You can grow on your own property without a doubt. Those living in rented spaces must first get written permission from a landlord or property owner, with the understanding that growing marijuana can lead to odors, increased water bills, and increased electricity bills (if done indoors). If you plan on leasing a living space ask your landlord to clarify their expectations and guidelines about marijuana in the lease agreement.
Your cultivation efforts must not be seen from the street or within public view. It must also be secure from all persons under 21. This is crucial. In the same way that you would lock up your liquor cabinets around your kids, you need to lock up your marijuana.
Growing in an unsecured location or without written consent from the property owner can lead to:
- A $100 fine for the first offense;
- $200 fine for the second offense; and
- $500 fine for the third and every following offense. (p. 12)
Raising more than two mature plants and four immature plants at a time can lead to much more serious penalties. Much like violating the personal possession limits, a first offense can lead to a referral to a Court Diversion Program. If prosecutors argue that Court Diversion would do no good they may press for a conviction, and up to a $500 fine, six months in prison, or both. After a first offense the penalties increase dramatically.
- Growing more than two mature plants or four immature plants can lead to a $2,000 fine, two years in prison, or both.
- Growing more than four mature plants or eight immature plants can lead to a $10,000 fine, three years in prison, or both.
- Growing more than six mature plants or 12 immature plants can lead to a $10,000 fine, five years in prison, or both.
- Growing more than 12 mature plants or 24 immature plants can lead to a $500,000 fine, 15 years in prison, or both. (p. 3-4)
Catch up on previous MMLR’s:
Week 1: Legal? We look at whether this law really is legalization or just enhanced decriminalization.
Week 2: What is Marijuana? We look at the State of Vermont’s technical definition of marijuana as it relates to Act 86.
Week 3: How much Marijuana can you have in Vermont? We look at the in and outs of personal possession laid out by Act 86.