Vermont Cannabis Laws Every Dispensary Operator Must Know

Vermont Cannabis Laws

While medical cannabis has been legal in Vermont since 2004, the state became the 11th to legalize adult-use cannabis in October 2022. Now, adults 21 and over can legally purchase cannabis from licensed dispensaries.

With adult use legalization, comes new laws and regulations beyond those for medical marijuana. Failure to comply with state laws will lead to disciplinary fines and even suspension or revocation of licensure. It’s crucial to thoroughly understand all the regulations laid out by Vermont law.

This post breaks down the important Vermont marijuana rules that dispensary operators must know.

Vermont Cannabis Laws at a Glance

  • The Cannabis Control Board is responsible for administering the adult-use and medical cannabis programs in the State of Vermont

  • Adults 21 and older can purchase up to one ounce of marijuana or 8,400 milligrams of THC

  • Cannabis establishments cannot advertise their products via any medium unless the licensee shows that not more than 15 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be under 21

  • Dispensary employees must attend training seminars once every three years

  • Retail dispensaries in the state are allowed to collect, reuse, and recycle packaging waste for future cannabis and other use under specific guidelines

  • Vermont imposes a 14% excise tax on the retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products

Licensing

Legal reference

(a) An applicant, principal of an applicant, and person who owns or controls an applicant, who is a natural person: (1) shall be 21 years of age or older, and (2) shall consent to the release of his or her criminal and administrative history records. (b) As part of the application process, each applicant shall submit, in a format prescribed by the Board, an operating plan. The Board shall adopt rules regarding the required components of an application for each type of license. (c) The Board shall obtain a fingerprint-based Vermont criminal history record, an out-of-state criminal history record, a criminal history record from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and any regulatory records relating to the operation of a business in this State or any other jurisdiction for each of the following who is a natural person: (1) the applicant; (2) each proposed principal; and (3) each individual who would control the business. (d) An applicant who is denied a license may appeal the Board’s determination in accordance with section 847 of this title. (Added 2019, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. Oct. 7, 2020.)

Applicants for a dispensary license must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • 21 years of age or older

  • Consent to release their criminal and administrative history records.

  • Submit an operating plan

  • Submit a fingerprint-based Vermont criminal history record, an out-of-state criminal history record, a criminal history record from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and any regulatory records relating to the operation of a business in the state

Applicants who are denied a license may appeal that decision with the Board.

A licensed cannabis retailer is allowed to:

  • Purchase cannabis from a licensed cultivator, wholesaler, or integrated licensee and cannabis products from a licensed wholesaler

  • Transport, possess, package, and sell cannabis and cannabis products to the public for consumption off the registered premises

Retailers that sell cannabis and cannabis products to consumers must pay an annual licensing fee of $10,000.

Advertising

Legal reference

(a) “Advertise” and “advertisement” have the same meaning as in section 861 of this title. (b) A cannabis establishment advertisement shall not contain any statement or illustration that: (1) is deceptive, false, or misleading; (2) promotes overconsumption; (3) represents that the use of cannabis has curative effects; (4) offers a prize, award, or inducement for purchasing cannabis or a cannabis product, except that price discounts are allowed; (5) offers free samples of cannabis or cannabis products; (6) depicts a person under 21 years of age consuming cannabis or cannabis products; or (7) is designed to be or has the effect of being particularly appealing to persons under 21 years of age. (c) Cannabis establishments shall not advertise their products via any medium unless the licensee can show that not more than 15 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be under 21 years of age. (d) All advertisements shall contain health warnings adopted by rule by the Board in consultation with the Department of Health. (e) All advertisements shall be submitted to the Board on a form or in a format prescribed by the Board, prior to the dissemination of the advertisement. The Board may: (1) require a specific disclosure be made in the advertisement in a clear and conspicuous manner if the Board determines that the advertisement would be false or misleading without such a disclosure; or (2) require changes that are necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare or consistent with dispensing information for the product under review. (Added 2021, No. 62, § 6, eff. June 7, 2021.

Cannabis ads may not contain any statement or illustration that:

  • Is deceptive, false, or misleading

  • Promotes overconsumption

  • Represents that the use of cannabis has curative effects

  • Offers a prize, award, or inducement for purchasing cannabis or a cannabis product, except that price discounts are allowed

  • Offers free samples of cannabis or cannabis products

  • Depicts a person under 21 years of age consuming cannabis or cannabis products

  • Is designed to be or has the effect of being particularly appealing to persons under 21 years of age

Dispensaries also cannot advertise their products via any medium unless the licensee shows that not more than 15 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be under 21.

All advertisements must also contain health warnings and be submitted to the Board for approval.

    Required training

    Legal reference

    2.2.5 Employment and Training (a) Licensee Training: In accordance with 7 V.S.A. 865(a), the agents of those who control a Cannabis Establishment shall complete an enforcement seminar once every three years. For the purposes of this section, an agent refers to anyone who is an employee of the establishment, who works at the establishment, or who plays a significant operational role within the licensee, including members of the licensee’s board of directors or a similar governing body. (b) General Employee Training: within 60 days of hire and annually after that, employees of Cannabis Establishments must complete training regarding the following topics, except that employees of retail establishments may not sell Cannabis or Cannabis Products to consumers without first completing training regarding the first 5 topics of the following list: i. the Cannabis Establishment’s operating, security, health, safety, and sanitary procedures; ii. compliance, enforcement, inspection, incident reporting, and record-keeping; iii. acceptable forms of identification for staff and visitors, if permitted by this rule; iv. inventory control and appropriate tracking systems; v. cash handling; vi. human trafficking and domestic violence awareness; vii. diversity, equity, and inclusion; viii. racism and bias; and ix. sexual harassment and discrimination. 8 (c) Retail Employee Training: customer-facing employees of retail Cannabis Establishments must complete training regarding the following topics, and may not sell Cannabis or Cannabis Products to consumers until they do so: i. the health effects of Cannabis and Cannabis Products; ii. preventing the sale of Cannabis to minors; and iii. signs of overconsumption and signs of mental health or substance abuse disorder.

    Within 60 days of hire and annually after that, employees must complete training on various topics, including:

    • Operating procedures and security

    • Health, safety, and sanitation

    • Incident reporting

    • Record-keeping

    • Acceptable forms of identification

    • Inventory control and tracking systems

    • Cash handling

    • Human trafficking and domestic violence awareness.

    • Diversity, equity, and inclusion

    • Sexual harassment and discrimination

    Customer-facing employees at retail dispensaries, like budtenders, cannot sell cannabis until they complete more specific training. A few of these more specific topics include:

    • The health effects of cannabis and cannabis products such as cannabinoids, qualifying conditions, and interactions between cannabis and common medical conditions

    • Preventing the sale of cannabis to minors

    • Identifying signs of overconsumption, mental health issues, or substance abuse disorders

    Prohibited products

    Legal reference

    868. Prohibited products (a) The following are prohibited products and may not be cultivated, produced, or sold pursuant to a license issued under this chapter: (1) cannabis flower with greater than 30 percent tetrahydrocannabinol; (2) flavored oil cannabis products sold prepackaged for use with battery-powered devices and any cannabis flower that contains characterizing flavor that is not naturally occurring in the cannabis; (3) cannabis products that contain delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol and nicotine or alcoholic beverages; and (4) any cannabis, cannabis products, or packaging of such items that are designed to make the product more appealing to persons under 21 years of age. (b)(1) Except as provided by subdivision (2) of this subsection, solid and liquid concentrate cannabis products with greater than 60 percent tetrahydrocannabinol may be produced by a licensee and sold to another licensee in accordance with subchapter 3 of this chapter but shall not be sold to the public by a licensed retailer or integrated licensee. (2) Liquid concentrate cannabis products with greater than 60 percent tetrahydrocannabinol that are prepackaged for use with battery-powered devices shall be permitted to be sold to the public by a licensed retailer or integrated licensee. (Added 2019, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. Oct. 7, 2020; amended 2021, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 11, eff. May 31, 2022.)

    The following products may not be cultivated, produced, or sold at a dispensary:

    • Cannabis flower that contains more than 30% THC

    • Flavored oil cannabis products sold prepackaged for use with battery-powered devices and any cannabis flower with a flavor that is not naturally occurring in cannabis

    • Products that contain delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol

    • Nicotine or alcohol

    • Items that are designed to make the product more appealing to persons under 21

    Insurance

    Legal reference

    2.2.2 Insurance (a) A Cannabis Establishment shall obtain and maintain commercially reasonable levels of insurance. (b) A Cannabis Establishment that documents an inability to obtain commercially reasonable levels of insurance coverage as required by subsection (a) of this section must place in escrow a sum in one of the following amounts: i. For retailers, wholesalers, integrated licensees, testing laboratories, tier 1 manufacturers, and tier 4, 5, and 6 cultivators of any type, a sum of no less than $250,000 to be expended for coverage of liabilities. ii. For tier 2 and 3 manufacturers and tier 2 and 3 cultivators of any type, a sum of no less than $50,000 to be expended for coverage of liabilities. iii. For tier 1 cultivators of any type a sum of no less than $10,000 to be expended for coverage of liabilities. (c) The escrow account required in subsection (b) of this section must be replenished within ten business days of any expenditure. (d) Cannabis Establishments must be prepared to demonstrate compliance with this subsection at any time, with records maintained in such a way that they can be readily accessed from the physical site of operations upon the request of the Board or Board designee.

    Marijuana dispensaries must have and maintain commercially reasonable levels of insurance coverage.

    If a dispensary is unable to obtain insurance, they must place a specific amount of money in escrow.

    Escrow amounts will vary based on these types of establishments:

    • Retailers, wholesalers, integrated licensees, testing laboratories, tier 1 manufacturers, and tier 4, 5, and 6 cultivators: Minimum of $250,000

    • Tier 2 and 3 manufacturers and tier 2 and 3 cultivators: Minimum of $50,000

    • Tier 1 cultivators: Minimum of $10,000

    Waste disposal

    Legal reference

    2.2.8 Waste Disposal (a) All applicable federal, state, and local statutes, regulations, and ordinances apply to waste disposal from Cannabis Establishments. This includes, but is not limited to, all regulations pertinent to chemical, dangerous, and hazardous waste, such as those that may be generated during product manufacturing processes, as well as all pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. (b) Cannabis or Cannabis Products must be rendered unusable and unrecognizable before disposal. The acceptable methods for rendering Cannabis and Cannabis Product unusable and unrecognizable will be enumerated by the Board in a policy that will be readily available to the public. (c) Organic material that has either no tetrahydrocannabinol content or a tetrahydrocannabinol content under 0.3%, doesn’t need to be rendered unusable or unrecognizable. It can be composted on site or disposed of in a manner otherwise consistent with applicable law and regulation. (d) Disposal of Cannabis and Cannabis Products must be tracked with the Inventory Tracking System, as provided for by section 2.2.6 of this rule.

    All federal, state, and local regulations regarding waste disposal apply to cannabis establishments. This includes rules for:

    • Chemicals

    • Dangerous, and hazardous waste

    • Pesticides and agricultural chemicals

    Cannabis and cannabis products must be made unusable and unrecognizable before disposal.

    Organic material with no THC or a THC content below 0.3% does not need to be rendered unusable and can be composted on-site or disposed of in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

    Packaging and labeling

    Legal reference

    2.2.9 Packaging (a) The following requirements apply to all Cannabis and Cannabis Product packaging as it is transferred between Cannabis Establishments. Such packaging must: i. meet the requirements of section 2.2.10(b) of this rule; ii. clearly identify package contents; iii. be free from false or misleading statements; and iv. not use objects, such as toys, inflatables, movie characters, cartoon characters, child-friendly depictions of food or other consumables, or include any other display, depiction, or image designed in any manner likely to be appealing to minors or anyone under 21 years of age. 11 (b) Packaging that is intended for consumer purchase at a retail location shall be reusable and shall not be plastic. In addition, such packaging shall meet further requirements to the extent provided for in sections 2.3.5, 2.6.3, 2.7.3, and 2.8.4 of this rule. 2.2.10 Warning Labels The Board will make copies of the labels below readily available for use by Cannabis Establishments. (a) All marketing, advertising, branding, packaging, and promotion must include the following warning exactly as it is below: Cannabis has not been analyzed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For use by individuals 21 years of age and older or registered qualifying patient only. KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN AND PETS. DO NOT USE IF PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING. Possession or use of cannabis may carry significant legal penalties in some jurisdictions and under federal law. It may not be transported outside of the state of Vermont. The effects of edible cannabis may be delayed by two hours or more. Cannabis may be habit-forming and can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Persons 25 years and younger may be more likely to experience harm to the developing brain. It is against the law to drive or operate machinery when under the influence of this product. National Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222. 12 (b) All product packaging must use the following warning symbols: (c) All product packaging must include the following statement, including capitalization, in at least 10-point Times New Roman, Helvetica, or Ariel and bolded font: (d) All product packaging for products that contain multiple servings must contain the following statement, including capitalization, in at least 10-point Times New Roman, Helvetica or Ariel and bolded font: 2.2.11 Advertising In addition to those contained in 7 V.S.A. § 864 and section 2.2.10(a) of this rule, the following prohibitions and requirements apply to advertising Cannabis or Cannabis Products: (a) Cannabis Establishments are prohibited from using objects, such as toys, inflatables, movie characters, cartoon characters, child-friendly depictions of food or other consumables, or include any other display, depiction, or image designed in any manner likely to be appealing to minors or anyone under 21 years of age. This includes, but is not 13 limited to, brand logo development and any advertising used for the purposes of marketing the licensee's dispensary and/or products. (b) Cannabis Establishments are prohibited from advertising or promoting in a manner that is false, untrue, or misleading. (c) Cannabis Establishments are prohibited from including in their advertising any statement concerning a brand or product that is inconsistent with any statement on the labeling thereof. (d) Websites for Cannabis Establishments must have age-gating.

    Cannabis packaging must include:

    • The cannabis strain and the variety of cannabis

    • The potency of the cannabis represented by the amount of THC and CBD in milligrams per serving

    • A “produced on” date that reflects the date that the cultivator finished producing the cannabis

    • Appropriate warnings as prescribed by the Board

    The appropriate warnings also dictate that packaging cannot be designed to appeal to persons under 21 years of age. Therefore:

    • A retailer must display a safety information flyer at the point of purchase and offer a customer a copy of the flyer with each purchase

    • Retailers must inform the customer that if the customer elects not to receive the flyer, the information contained in the flyer is available on the website for the Board

    Security

    Legal reference

    2.8.2 Retail Security Retailers must meet all requirements of section 2.5.1 of this rule, along with the following additional requirements: (a) Alarm systems installed by retailers must be installed by an alarm installation company with expertise in industry standard commercial-grade alarm systems. (b) Video surveillance must include point-of-sale areas, all entrances, exits, and any area where Cannabis or Cannabis Product is stored or handled. (c) Strict access controls to areas where Cannabis and Cannabis Product is stored or handled. (d) Video footage must be kept for at least 30 days, and video recording devices must be continuously recording. (e) Employees shall wear identification badges that clearly identify them as employees while on duty. (f) Upon request, a retailer shall make available to the Board or Board designee all information related to security alarm systems, monitoring, alarm activity, maps of camera locations and camera coverage, surveillance equipment maintenance log, authorized user list, operation instructions, and any other relevant information. (g) The number of customers in the retail area at any given time may not be more than can be easily monitored by the employees present in the retail area. (h) The requirements of 7 V.S.A. § 881(a)(5), to the extent not already covered by this rule.

    Cannabis dispensaries in Vermont must follow these security requirements:

    • Alarm systems installed by retailers and dispensaries must be handled by expert alarm installation companies specializing in commercial-grade systems

    • Video surveillance must cover point of sale areas, entrances, exits, and anywhere where cannabis is stored or handled
    • Strict access controls must be implemented for areas where cannabis products are stored or handled

    • Video footage must be retained for a minimum of 30 days

    • Employees must wear identification badges on duty

    • The number of customers in the retail area should be manageable and easily monitored by the employes

    Learn how to protect your dispensary with the Dispensary Security Guide.

    Age verification

    Legal reference

    Age Verification (a) Immediately upon a visitor entering the retail premises an individual who has been issued an identification card pursuant to Board Rule 1.16 shall inspect the visitor’s proof of identification and determine the visitor’s age. This age check shall take place in the immediate vicinity of the entrance to the retail premises. (b) “Acceptable form of identification” shall mean a photo identification issued by a government, and it must be current and valid. (c) No individual shall be admitted unless the retailer has verified that the acceptable form of identification matches the visitor and that the visitor is 21 years of age or older. (d) Prior to completing a transaction for the purchase of Cannabis or a Cannabis Product, an individual who has been issued an identification card pursuant to Board Rule 1.16 shall inspect the visitor’s proof of identification and determine the visitor’s age. (e) A retailer may not acquire or record visitor personal information other than information typically required by a retail transaction, which can include information to determine the visitor’s age. (f) A retailer may not record or retain any additional personal information from a visitor without the visitor’s permission. (g) Retailers shall refuse to sell to any visitor who is unable to produce valid proof of their age using an acceptable form of identification.

    Retail dispensaries in Vermont must verify that every customer is 21 years or older. Here are the details of the age verification process:

    • When a visitor enters a retail dispensary, a licensed employee must inspect the ID and verify their age at the entrance

    • Individuals without an acceptable form of identification matching their identity cannot be admitted

    • Before completing a dispensary purchase, employees must again inspect the visitor's identification to verify their age

    • Retailers must not acquire or record personal information from visitors

    Collection and reuse of consumer packaging waste

    Legal reference

    (a) Retail Cannabis Establishments may collect, reuse, and recycle consumer packaging waste. Only retail Cannabis Establishments may collect consumer packaging waste for reuse and recycling. Such Cannabis Establishments may collect consumer packaging waste from consumers or from other licensees. (b) Any receptacles used for the collection of Consumer Packaging Waste shall be located inside the Cannabis Establishment such that they are subject to the same security measures as the rest of the establishment. They shall be reasonably supervised by a licensee to ensure any consumer packaging waste is only removed by a licensee. (c) Any receptacles used for the collection of consumer packaging waste shall be labeled. The label must at least identify the receptacle as “consumer packaging waste.” A licensee may choose to include additional information on the receptacle label. (d) Licensees collecting consumer packaging waste pursuant to this section 2.8.5 must ensure at a minimum that any remaining Cannabis or Cannabis Product in consumer packaging waste is removed and destroyed to the extent practicable. The waste disposal requirements of section 2.2.8 of this rule shall apply. (e) Once any remaining Cannabis or Cannabis Product has been removed and destroyed pursuant to these rules, a licensee may: i. Reuse consumer packaging waste if the packaging has been sanitized and disinfected. ii. Transfer consumer packaging waste to another licensee for reuse or may transfer consumer packaging waste to a person for recycling or reuse. (f) A Cannabis Establishment that is reusing consumer packaging waste must sanitize and disinfect the packaging. (g) Child-resistant containers may be reused as child-resistant containers to the extent they continue to meet the requirements of 7 V.S.A. § 861(16).

    Only retail cannabis establishments and dispensaries in the state are allowed to collect, reuse, and recycle cannabis packaging waste.

    • Receptacles used for collecting consumer packaging waste must be located inside dispensaries

    • The receptacles must be labeled as "consumer packaging waste"

    • Licensees collecting consumer packaging waste must ensure any remaining cannabis or cannabis product is removed and destroyed

    • After removing any remaining cannabis product, a licensee can reuse sanitized and disinfected consumer packaging waste or transfer it to another licensee for reuse and recycling

    • Reused consumer packaging waste must be sanitized and disinfected.

    Standard operating procedures

    Legal reference

    2.8.6 Standard Operating Procedures Retailers must maintain standard operating procedures regarding the following subjects in such a way that they can be readily accessed from the physical site of operations upon the request of the Board or Board designee : (a) security measures; (b) employee security policies, including personal safety and crime prevention techniques; 28 (c) description of establishment’s hours of operation and after-hours contact information for management; (d) plan for storage of inventory; (e) procedures to ensure accurate recordkeeping, including inventory protocols and compliance with the Inventory Tracking System; (f) quality control plans; (g) emergency procedures in case of a fire or other emergency; (h) how confidential information will be maintained; and (i) policy for immediate dismissal of an employee who has diverted Cannabis or Cannabis Product or engaged in unsafe practices.

    Retailers and cannabis dispensaries must uphold standard operating procedures (SOPs) that regard various subjects, rules, and regulations in the state of Vermont.

    SOPs must cover topics including:

    • Security measures

    • Employee security policies

    • Description of the establishment's hours of operation and after-hours contact information

    • Plan for inventory storage

    • Procedures for accurate recordkeeping in compliance with the retailer's inventory tracking system

    • Quality control plans

    • Emergency procedures

    • Maintenance of confidential information

    • Policy for immediate dismissal of an employee

    Pro tip: Use these free Dispensary SOP templates to jumpstart your documentation.

    Purchase limits

    Legal reference

    7 VSA § 907(b) states that “In a single transaction, a retailer may provide one ounce of cannabis or the equivalent in cannabis products, or a combination thereof, to a person 21 years of age or older upon verification of a valid government-issued photo identification card.”

    Cannabis retailers can sell one ounce of cannabis, or the equivalent in cannabis products (such as concentrates, edibles, and flower), in a single transaction.

    Adults may also possess four immature marijuana plants and two mature plants for personal cultivation.

    The following are equivalent to 1 ounce of cannabis flower:

    • 14 grams of cannabis concentrate (8400 mg total THC)
    • 8 single-gram THC vape cartridges (8000 mg total THC)
    • 168 packages of 50 mg THC edibles (8400 mg total THC)

    Vermont cannabis laws FAQs

    Is marijuana legal in Vermont?

    Medical cannabis has been legal in Vermont since 2004. The state recently legalized adult-use marijuana as well. Now, all adults 21 and over can legally purchase cannabis from licensed dispensaries in Vermont.

    How is cannabis taxed in Vermont?

    Vermont imposes a 14% excise tax on the retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products. This includes food or beverages that contain any cannabis.

    Is Flowhub compliant with Vermont’s cannabis regulations?

    Yes, Flowhub is built for compliant cannabis retail operations in the state of Vermont. Our point of sale, payments, and inventory management solutions have been used by some of the first retail dispensaries in the state.

    How much cannabis can I buy in Vermont?

    Consumers may purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis flower or equivalent cannabis product amounts in a single transaction.

    Disclaimer: The material contained on this website and any attached or referenced pages has been compiled by Flowhub for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be and is not considered to be legal advice. This post is current as of 6/27/2023. Cannabis regulations are rapidly changing, and legal advice of any nature should be sought from legal counsel.

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