What does Act 86 say about underage possession of 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.
It’s not legal for persons under the age of 21 to legally possess marijuana or cannabis products in Vermont. And, it will remain that way come July 1, 2018 when Act 86, Vermont’s new marijuana law, takes effect.
As we’ve seen in past Midweek Marijuana Law Reviews, marijuana possession limits can get technical.
Sec. 4 18 V.S.A. § 4230(a)(1)
…a person 21 years of age or older who possesses one ounce or less of marijuana or five grams or less of hashish….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.
Certain amounts over the possession limit can land a person in significant trouble with the law.
If you’re under 21 you’re not to possess any marijuana at all. Overstepping the hard limits of one ounce of marijuana and five grams of hashish can lead to criminal and civil penalties, but you can still find yourself slapped with civil penalties for ANY marijuana possession at all.
4230b. MARIJUANA POSSESSION BY A PERSON UNDER 21 YEARS OF AGE; CIVIL VIOLATION
- Offense. A person under 21 years of age who knowingly and unlawfully possesses one ounce or less of marijuana or five grams or less of hashish or two mature marijuana plants or fewer or four immature marijuana plants or fewer commits a civil violation and shall be referred to the Court Diversion Program for the purpose of enrollment in the Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program….
Anyone under the age of 21 who finds themselves with either finished and cultured marijuana, or mature and immature plants would be subject to only civil penalties or have a chance to avoid harsher consequences by enrolling in and finishing the Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program; a paid program wherein a youth would meet with a substance-use counselor, participate in substance-education programs, and perform community service.
The alternative to the program is much more expensive.
- …A person who fails to complete the program successfully shall be subject to:
- A civil penalty of $300.00 and suspension of the person’s operator’s license and privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 30 days, for a first offense; and
- A civil penalty of not more than $600.00 and suspension of the person’s operator’s license and privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 90 days, for a second or subsequent offense.
For many youth, losing license privileges may mean losing a job or their ride to school. Add that on top of the hundreds in fines, and the penalties for possession begin to look daunting.