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History of Medical Cannabis in Vermont
Vermont enacted S 76 in 2004, which established a patient registry that provided legal protections for qualifying patients and their primary caregivers who possess or cultivate small amounts of medical cannabis. Under the law patients and their designated caregivers may possess up to two ounces of usable cannabis, and patients only included those with cancer, HIV/AIDS and/or multiple sclerosis. In 2007, S 7 was enacted to increase the authorized patient cultivation limits to two mature and seven immature plants, and allowed licensed physicians in neighboring states to recommend cannabis for Vermont residents. S 7 also expanded the qualifying conditions to include any chronic, debilitating condition or its treatment that produces cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, or seizures.
In June 2011, Vermont enacted S 17, which authorized up to four state-licensed medical cannabis retail facilities and allowed physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to write recommendations. Dispensaries opened in the spring of 2013 to extend legal access to patients. The state medical program was expanded again in 2014 via S 247, which added delivery programs to existing dispensaries and granted naturopathic physicians the right to recommend medical cannabis. In 2016, Green Mountain State lawmakers passed S 14, which changed the definition of the qualifying condition of severe pain to the less restrictive condition of chronic pain.
In 2017, Governor Scott signed S 16, legislation improving the state's medical program by allowing patients to have access to a designated dispensary and to cultivate at home. Prior to this bill, patients had to choose between the two. Under the law dispensaries are also able to open second locations based on patient needs. The law also expanded the patient condition eligibility list by adding Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, and PTSD.
In 2018, Vermont enacted H 511, which authorized home cultivation of up to two plants and personal possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for Vermont adults, unrelated to the state's medical program. Also in 2018, regulators reported that the number of medical cannabis patients in the program has dropped significantly since the legalization of non-medical cannabis possession.