Marijuana Market in Vermont

Will there be an open and regulated marijuana market in Vermont?

Back in February 2020, the Vermont House backed a bill that would allow retail marijuana dispensaries to open as soon as 2020. The coronavirus through the legislature (and life as we know it in Vermont) for a loop.

According to VT Digger, the proposed bill in February “mandates a 20% tax, gives a head-start on retail sales to current medical marijuana dispensaries and all  saliva testing for drivers who are suspected to be impaired.”

Marijuana has been legal to possess and grow in small quantities since 2018, but sale of the drug has remained illegal in Vermont.

From a criminal defense perspective saliva testing drivers for marijuana is extremely problematic. First, there is no established “legal limit” for marijuana. So, even if we can test for the presence of marijuana in a driver’s system, the result does not mean anything unless it can be linked to impairment. Second, the roadside tests for marijuana aren’t very accurate. Even companies, such as Hound Labs, that is trying to develop a roadside test for marijuana admit that “alcohol impairment is measured in parts per thousand. THC is something like a billion times less concentrated than alcohol.”

DUI-Drug cases have been on the rise in recent years in Vermont. Vermont allows for driving under the influence cases to proceed in both DUI alcohol and DUI drug cases under a “under the influence to the slightest degree” standard. Therefore, a “legal limit” isn’t required for alcohol or drugs to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a surprising and alarming fact for many Vermonters. In fact, I have seen clients charged with DUI alcohol with as little as .03 BAC, because an officer claimed based on his “training and experience” that the operator was impaired behind the wheel.

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