Vermont’s New Marijuana Law Won’t Require Employment Policy Changes
Portions of Vermont’s new law allowing people 21 or older to possess limited quantities of marijuana will take effect July 1, but the new law won’t require employers to change their policies or permit the use or possession of marijuana at work.
The new law, titled “An act relating to eliminating penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 years of age and older,” means that as of July 1, individuals who are at least 21 will be permitted to possess up to one ounce of marijuana or five grams of hashish and cultivate up to two mature marijuana plants or four immature marijuana plants.
The law prohibits the consumption of marijuana in a “public place,” which is defined as “any street, alley, park, sidewalk, public building other than individual dwellings, any place of public accommodation [as defined in the Vermont Public Accommodations Act,] and any place where the use or possession of a lighted tobacco product, tobacco product, or tobacco substitute . . . is prohibited by law.” The law also doesn’t protect people who possess or consume marijuana from laws related to driving under the influence of marijuana or consuming marijuana while driving.
Effect on Employers
Provisions of the law actively prohibit marijuana use in workplaces and explicitly allow employers to continue to regulate whether marijuana can be possessed or used on their premises.
The law’s prohibition of consumption in a public place means people will be prohibited from consuming marijuana in a workplace that falls within the law’s definition of public place regardless of the employer’s policies. The law also gives employers the ability to continue to regulate the possession or use of marijuana on the job.
Marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law. The new Vermont law eliminates only state-law penalties for the possession and use of marijuana within certain parameters.
For more information on the new Vermont law on marijuana, see “New Vermont pot law: what employers need to know” in the February 2018 issue of Vermont Employment Law Letter.
Jeff Nolan is an attorney with Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, P.C. in Burlington and an editor of Vermont Employment Law Letter. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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