POLICY & LAW
Cannabis possession and use by UVM students, employees, or the general public is not allowed anywhere on UVM property, including in residence halls or at UVM sponsored events, whether on or off campus. This policy has been adopted in compliance with federal law, and the University’s obligations as a recipient of federal funding, irrespective of Vermont’s legislation regarding small amounts of recreational marijuana and the state’s therapeutic use (e.g. Medical Marijuana) statute.
Note: This page uses the term cannabis referring to marijuana and derivatives. This includes bud, edibles, oils, and concentrates, as well.
Cannabis is a term that describes the parts and products of the plant Cannabis sativa, indica, (less often, ruderalis) and hybrid strains. In the United States, Cannabis mostly existed as marijuana ‘bud’ or ‘flower’ usually smoked. Recent advances in technology, technique, and law have created various types of concentrates that can contain up to 100% THC. These can be smoked, vaped, dabbed, or eaten. Flower itself has changed too: it is now routinely tested at 15% to 25% THC. That’s around 400% stronger than what existed in the 1960s.
Why not call it “marijuana”?
Marijuana commonly refers to the flowing bud of the female plant. Cannabis is now way more than that: “Cannabis” is meant to capture all the forms.
Cannabis vs Alcohol
Some people believe that Cannabis is safer than alcohol. Alcohol use can be problematic both in quantity (how much) and frequency (how often). Historically with Cannabis, binge use has not been an issue. However, recently, concentrates are changing this.
With cannabis, frequency of use is a large concern. ’Frequent Use’ (20 or more days in a month) is more common with cannabis than with alcohol. Although a larger number of people have tried alcohol, proportionally, a greater percent of current users are dependent on cannabis. Frequent use of cannabis can create a dependency that is physical (sleep and appetite get tied to use), psychological (anxiety and feeling worse without it), and social (impacting how people hangout; rituals around using).
ABOUT VERMONT LAW AND CONSEQUENCES
I understand cannabis is not permitted on campus or at university-sponsored events, but what does Vermont law (18 VSA 4230 et seq.) say about cannabis possession and use elsewhere?
- As of July 1, 2018, it is legal under Vermont state law for adults over 21 years of age to possess and use small amounts of cannabis.
- It remains illegal in Vermont for individuals over the age of 21 to possess larger quantities of cannabis.
- Individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited from possessing ANY amount of cannabis.
- Consumption of cannabis in a public place or in a vehicle is prohibited, regardless of age.
- While Vermont law will allow for the operation of recreational dispensaries beginning in October 2022, sale and distribution is currently illegal.
- Cannabis remains illegal under federal law. Individuals who possess or use Cannabis, including in Vermont, remain subject to federal prosecution.
Consequences of Prohibited Cannabis Use
- Prohibited use is outlined in the UVM Alcohol, Cannabis, and Other Drug Use Policy. Consequences for violating this policy can be found here, and could result in both UVM sanctions and civil or criminal charges.
- UVM sanctions may include fines, probation, suspension, or dismissal. A first offense includes a referral to the BASICS Program.
- Vermont law penalties for possession and cultivation range from referral to the Court Diversion Program (first offense) to fines and imprisonment (first or second offense) of up to $500,000 and 15 years.
- Vermont law penalties for dispensing cannabis or enabling a person under 21 to use cannabis may include fines of up to $2,000 and imprisonment for up to five years. The penalties are much harsher if a serious motor vehicle accident occurs.
Medical marijuana is not allowed on campus, including the residence halls, or at any UVM sponsored event, whether on or off campus. No institution receiving Federal funding can allow any use of cannabis, regardless of state law. Off campus, conditions of Vermont’s medical marijuana program apply.
PLEASE NOTE: Vermont is not reciprocal. Meaning, medical marijuana cards issued in any other state are not valid in Vermont.
What about CBD?
CBD (cannabidiol) derived from Cannabis is considered under Federal law to be a product of marijuana. Both possession and use of CBD, and other analogs, derivatives, and products of marijuana, are prohibited on campus and at any UVM sponsored event. However, CBD derived from hemp, which is defined as CBD with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent by dry weight, is not considered a product of marijuana under federal law and is permitted on UVM’s campus.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who uses cannabis?
This might be fewer people than you think: nationally, 34 percent of college students have reported using cannabis in the last year. That means that most students – 66 percent – actually don’t partake.
What are the things people don’t like about using cannabis?
- For some cannabis users, the drawbacks of use include:
- Long term cognitive side effects, such as lower intellectual functioning, memory loss and difficulty focusing, even when you’re not high.
- Impairment when driving a vehicle
- Sleep disruption when THC interrupts the most restorative part of the sleep cycle
- More frequent respiratory infections
- Overeating, overspending, and mental health effects
- Interaction with other drugs (including alcohol) can lead to negative effects
What are the things people like about using cannabis?
Users report that cannabis may:
- Reduce anxiety in the short term (though use makes some people anxious)
- Heighten enjoyment of social situations (though usually not in large groups)
- Increase appetite and improve the flavor of food
- Decrease symptoms of certain health conditions (i.e., glaucoma)
How would life be different if you experienced fewer of the negative effects of cannabis?
Reducing or eliminating cannabis use can improve grades and increase the odds that you will finish your degree. You are also at lower risk for chronic cough and other respiratory problems. You’re more likely to make healthy food choices when using less, and cutting down on cannabis will likely help you sleep better in the long run.
You’re also more likely to follow through with plans. Some people can smoke and feel more active; however, most people feel more relaxed and don’t feel inclined to be as productive. People who cut back often report feeling more clear-headed and connected, leading to more involvement in the UVM community.
What changes could you consider in order to use less cannabis?
- Understand that change is a process and it will take time to feel different
- Identify situations when you are most likely to use
- Make an appointment with one of the resources listed on the right side of this page
- Continue the effort to reduce or quit after a lapse
- Learn how to create a more balanced lifestyle
Try taking a two-week tolerance break. You might find the first 72 hours more difficult (with sleep, appetite, irritability) but this goes away. A break may provide you helpful information about your own specific experience.
What about crossing the border to Canada?
While laws regarding cannabis have changed in Canada, the laws of border crossing have not. For more information, please click here.
This information was adapted from the University of Washington. Learn more about cannabis from UW's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.