Understanding Act 86: Vermont's Recreational Pot Law

Gov. Phil Scott signed Act 86 into law in January 2018, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana and cultivate a small number of marijuana plants under state law starting July 1, 2018.

Read Act 86 as enacted here.

Confused by the language? Check out our pot glossary.

Have questions about what the law means for you? Review our FAQ.

Chalabala / iStock

Law enforcement officials are urging lawmakers to establish a roadside system to determine if a driver is operating a car under the influence of drugs. The system uses a saliva test that can measure levels of marijuana and seven other commonly used drugs. But the potential testing raises civil liberties concerns.

Trevor Smith /

The House Judiciary Committee scaled back a marijuana bill even further Friday in order to squeak it through the committee and keep the bill alive, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the Senate over legalization.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A bill that would tax and regulate marijuana in Vermont underwent a sudden and drastic overhaul on Wednesday evening, and the latest version scraps legalization in favor of expanding existing decriminalization laws.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

As House lawmakers ponder whether or not to legalize marijuana, two key questions have risen to the fore: Will legal pot make Vermont’s highways more dangerous? And will more young residents use cannabis if it’s sold legally in stores?

The answers all depend on who you ask.

Last week, the Winooski police shut down a clandestine drug lab in the heart of the city. But it wasn't a meth lab. The people in the apartment were allegedly making butane hash oil.

Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

As lawmakers in Montpelier debate legalizing marijuana, some local communities are taking action to regulate businesses that cater to users of the drug. In Weathersfield, a new bylaw regulating what it calls “drug and tobacco paraphernalia establishments” went into effect on Wednesday.

Patti Daniels / VPR

Winooski Police say the so-called “clandestine lab” authorities discovered Tuesday in the city’s downtown was being used to make a marijuana derivative called Butane Hash Oil, or BHO.

Angela Evancie / VPR/file

House Speaker Shap Smith says the House will spend the second half of the session closely reviewing a Senate bill that legalizes marijuana. Smith says supporters of the bill have a lot of work to do and doesn't think the proposal has the votes needed to pass at this time.

MmeEmil /

Late Wednesday afternoon, the state Senate voted to legalize marijuana in Vermont with 16 senators in favor and 13 against.  That's not too far off from a public opinion about legalizing pot, according to a VPR Poll that show 55 percent of Vermonters supporting legalization.

An unknown outcome is a rare occurrence when debate begins in the Vermont Senate, but it remained unclear Wednesday afternoon as senators took to the floor to consider legalizing marijuana if they would, in fact, vote to advance it.

Angela Evancie / VPR

On Wednesday afternoon, the Vermont Senate became only the second legislative body in the nation to approve a bill that would legalize the sale and possession of marijuana. But the narrow vote spotlights the controversial nature of the legislation. And proposal still faces staunch opposition in the House.

Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

This week the Vermont Senate is expected to consider legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. And according to a new VPR Poll, a majority of Vermonters favor the idea.

Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

The VPR Poll put some of the biggest questions facing Vermont to ... Vermonters. Novel, huh? They told us a lot.

From left to right: Toby Talbot|AP; Taylor Dobbs|VPR; Bob Kinzel|VPR; Toby Talbot|AP

It's likely that the legalization of marijuana could emerge as a key issue in this year's gubernatorial race. That's because both Democratic candidates support a bill making its way through the Senate and both Republicans are against it.

MmeEmil /

Gov. Peter Shumlin says he'd like to see lawmakers legalize marijuana during the current legislative session. But it now appears unlikely that the proposal will allow individual Vermonters to grow their own marijuana.

The golden dome of the Vermont Statehouse with a blue sky background.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

Six of Vermont's largest physician organizations are urging the Legislature not to legalize marijuana this year.

Bob Kinzel / VPR

The effort to legalize marijuana has gotten a big boost at the Statehouse. Gov. Peter Shumlin and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Sears have announced their support for a bill that "cautiously and deliberately" moves to legalize marijuana in Vermont.

JJRD / iStock

When Gov. Peter Shumlin voiced his support for legalizing recreational marijuana, he made a specific exception: edibles — pot infused cookies, brownies, butters and goodies.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a series of public hearings in southern Vermont Monday on marijuana legalization.

RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / iStock

Is this the year for legalization? Proponents think so, but even those who'd like to see marijuana legalized know that there's a long gap between here and there.

Questions persist on taxation, edibles, distribution and driving under the influence of marijuana, among other issues. Governor Peter Shumlin outlined those concerns in his State of the State address last week.