By DAVID DOWNS
Get ready to pack a super legal bowl this weekend. Nine US states have legalized marijuana for adult use, and two of them — Vermont and Massachusetts — cross major milestones this Sunday.
In Massachusetts, there won’t be quite the celebration many were hoping for, as no retail cannabis stores have received their state licenses yet. So it looks like it’ll be more of a soft opening statewide.
And Vermont’s form of legalization doesn’t include retail stores at all. Yet. We’ll see how long state officials hold out while Massachusetts realizes all that cannabis tax money.
There are things you can do starting July 1 that don’t involve retail stores, though. Here’s what becomes available in the two states on Sunday.
Massachusetts has a July 1 deadline to begin recreational sales, and it’s being heralded as a milestone. Many people think that’s when personal cannabis rights kick in as well. Not true. Under Question 4, the legalization measure that passed in Nov. 2016, personal cannabis rights in Massachusetts kicked in on December 15, 2016. In Massachusetts, on July 1, you can continue to:
Smoke It or Vape It
Adults 21 and older can twist some Blue Dream or Headband up in the privacy of their homes. Smoking in public can result in a $100 ticket in public. Your landlord has the legal right to ban smoking or vaping on the premises. Also, be mindful of any rules your employer may have around this subject. Last year the state supreme court ruled that employers can’t fire workers just because they use medical marijuana, but the case did not cover adult use. One employee recently found out the hard way. Many employers around the state are struggling to adapt their HR policies to cover the new legal landscape.
Cook It and Eat It
We didn’t mention food. Of course, adults 21 and over can also cook and eat cannabis foods. Again, we’re not asking where you bought it, because stores aren’t open. (See below.) We’ve got a great article about how to make cannabutter at home available here.
The more you share, the more you are gonna get. Adults only.
Sorry Vermont, Massachusetts has you beat on growing. Residents there can grow six mature plants. They’re probably doing that indoors, because Massachusetts ain’t exactly a primo herb climate. You can possess up to ten ounces legally at your house. Want to start growing? Check out these great guides on growing cannabis indoors and outdoors.
Get a Card, Purchase Medical
Don’t forget medical! Massachusetts has a functioning medical program with 50,353 patients, 31 dispensaries, and 255 clinics. Folks with serious medical needs can see the list of qualifying conditions here, or get started at Mass.gov. Leafly also has a guide to cannabis products that are currently available at medical dispensaries, and are likely to go on sale as soon as those dispensaries receive their state adult-use licenses.
Where Are the Massachusetts Stores?
Voters in November 2016 asked for stores by January 2018. State legislators pushed that deadline back to July 1, 2018. Now the July 1 deadline is being treated more like the pirate code: a mere guideline. Bureaucrats are walking retail stores through the red tape as we speak.
“I don’t think it’s a conspiracy of any sort,” said Matt Simon, Marijuana Policy Project’s New England political director. “They’re bureaucrats and they’re taking a lot of time. It’s certainly frustrating for people who voted for sales to start Jan. 1.”
Stores might be open in Massachusetts later in July, or maybe in August. Have patience. The future is bright.
“The big picture is very optimistic,” said Simon. “We’re happy with where things are likely to be. This July, not great. In a year, terrific.”
Welcome to legalization, Vermonters! On July 1st, adults 21 and up in-state get to experience a rare thing in modernity: more freedom. In Vermont, on July 1, under cannabis legalization you can:
Yessir, adults age 21 and older may twist up their finest local supplies of regional cannabis agriculture. We won’t talk about where or how you got it, since sales remain illegal. But the products you have on your person made it to home base. It’s safe as long as it’s one ounce or less.
We think it’s okay for two consenting 21+ adults to share some bud. Technically, it’s unclear. “The Vermont law is actually silent on ‘gifting,’ so it’s not entirely clear what would happen in court if police decided they wanted to charge somebody for ‘distribution,’” said MPP’s Matt Simon. “In practice, I think it’s very unlikely that police or prosecutors would want to try prosecuting somebody for this unless money was changing hands.”
Two mature plants. That’s two, Utah. Get me two. And make ’em count. Subject to landlord approval; sorry, renters.
“It’s the first phase of legalization,” said Simon. “There’s no regulated market, but adults will no longer be punished in any way for growing small amounts.”
Carry It Around
The mere smell of cannabis is no longer enough evidence to trigger a car search in Vermont. But cops can spot watery eyes, slow driving, and bits of leaf on your shirt all the same. Driving under the influence remains illegal and puts the safety of yourself and others at risk. Don’t do it. Take a Lyft.
… Not Buy It. No Selling, No Buying, No Exceptions.
That includes lame faux-gifting schemes where you buy a $50 postcard and the herb is complimentary. Come on, son.
There are no stores coming to Vermont, at least not under the law that comes into effect on July 1. The legislature will revisit legalization again in its next session, Simon said. He says he’s confident that some form of retail sales and regulation will pass.