Vermont Legislators Consider Bill Allowing Towns to Classify Pot Odor as a “Public Nuisance”
Lawmakers are brainstorming new ways to criminalize cannabis users.
Published on March 2, 2018

Photo via iStock/ chabybucko

As of July 1st, adults in Vermont will be free to smoke as much cannabis as they wish, but state legislators are already brainstorming ways to limit this new freedom. The state’s new cannabis law already prohibits the use of cannabis in public, including sidewalks, parks, and hotels, but some legislators want to take the protection of non-smokers even further by limiting potential odors from marijuana smoke.

The state House of Representatives is currently debating a bill that would empower cities and towns to classify the smell of marijuana as a “public nuisance,” allowing cops to ticket individuals who are purportedly disturbing their neighbors with pot odors. The state’s current cannabis law already allows landlords to prohibit their tenants from using or growing cannabis, but the new bill would give local governments more power to interfere with individuals consuming legal weed on private property.

"I feel, as a non-marijuana user, that I should not have somebody else's use impact my life," South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple told a House committee during a hearing on the bill, the Burlington Free Press reports. Whipple did acknowledge that his department has never received a complaint about the smell of cigarette smoke, nor have they ever received a complaint about the smell of medical cannabis, which has been legal in the state since 2004.

"We might be jumping the gun on this one a little bit," State Rep. Cindy Weed (really) said, according to the Burlington Free Press. "What problem are we trying to solve?" asked Angela Zaikowski, director of the Vermont Apartment Owners Association, also noting that under the legislation landlords could be fined for their tenants' pot smoke.

The state House Committee on Government Operations will vote on the bill today, and if it passes, the bill will move on to the full House for a vote. If the bill becomes law, it will go into effect on July 2nd of this year, giving cannabis users one day to fill the state with the dank smell of cannabis as they please. After that, smokers will have to consider ways to keep the pungent aroma of their favorite herb from disturbing their neighbors.

Vermont 's cannabis legalization law is unique among canna-legal states in the U.S. in that all marijuana sales are still illegal. Adults are free to consume cannabis, but they must grow it themselves or receive it as a gift. In Barre City, Mayor Thomas Lauzon has already proposed limiting home cultivation via an ordinance that would force home-growers to register for cultivation licenses, pay annual fees, and open their homes to police inspection.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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