Vermont might fine people over cannabis odor


Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Vermont’s legislature legalized cannabis in January, and lawmakers in the state have been working on regulations since. One bill that is going through Vermont’s legislature would allow towns to label cannabis odor as a “public nuisance” that can result in a fine. If your house is creating too much of this odor, someone could report you and get you ticketed. This bill is largely being pushed by Vermont Republicans.

“When it comes to regulating activities that take place on private property, Vermont Republicans used to just care about what went on in the bedroom, but apparently, they now want to expand the scope of government intrusion to the front porch as well,” Daniel Giangreco, a board member of the Vermont Cannabis Association, told Cannabis News Box. “Anything this subjective can and will be abused. It’s worth noting that the bill’s supporters, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and some members of the Chittenden County Law Enforcement Executives Committee, are the same folks who opposed legalization. This is just a piece of nuisance legislation that doesn’t pass the smell test.”

It is already illegal to consume cannabis in public in Vermont, based on the legalization law that passed in January, but this new bill could regulate private use in a way many in the state find concerning. It’s unclear if the bill will pass, but cannabis advocates are fighting to make sure it doesn’t.

“Vermont’s medical cannabis and home growing communities have been vocal and active since this bill was introduced,” Giangreco said. “There’s been a lot of discussion on social media, and when it comes to cannabis, these conversations invariably move out of the echo chamber and into the Vermont State House.”

Giangreco thinks that if the bill passes, it would be “terrible” for Vermont’s medical cannabis community. Many medical users like to smoke their medicine, and they could have a hard time doing that if they’re constantly worried about getting fined for doing it.

He worries “this proposed legislation could inform housing discrimination; targeting the chronically ill, the elderly, and any member of a protected class.” There are also concerns in the state that landlords could become liable for what their tenants do, when it comes to using cannabis, under the bill.

There doesn’t seem to be an epidemic of cannabis odor in Vermont, so it’s a bit odd that this legislation came to exist in the first place. It’s certainly possible this is just one more way of trying to limit cannabis use that anti-legalization activists have come up with since legalization became a reality.