With marijuana now legal, 4/20 seems like just another day in Vermont

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The celebratory day for marijuana looks different in 2021 with cannabis now legal in Vermont, New York and more than a dozen other states around the country.

“We’ve now agreed that cannabis should be legal in Vermont, but what about all those people that have arrest records or have criminal records related to possession of cannabis that they have to acknowledge when applying to a job?” said Sen. Chris Pearson.

Pearson initially proposed the expungement policy to Vermont lawmakers. It took effect January 1st and 10,000 Vermonters had low level marijuana convictions automatically wiped from their record.

“It has a direct and significant impact and sort of reflects our updated attitude about cannabis,” Pearson said. “And whether or not we want it in the criminal sphere.”

Vermont’s cannabis control board just got to work on guidelines for the recreational marketplace. More than 5,000 Vermonters are also enrolled in Vermont’s medicinal marijuana program.

“We have a lot of Vermonters looking for better relief from their symptoms but not getting a whole lot of guidance from the medical professionals in their life,” said Paul Jerard, a physician’s assistant at UVM Medical Center and creator of the Vermont Cannabinoid Clinic.

He admits there is a learning gap between medical professionals and the safe use of the substance. Jerard will help lead a new cannabis education program for Vermont nurses, so these professionals can be armed with the knowledge.

“Nurse practitioners are one of the qualifying practitioners that can sign people up for the program so it’s important they know how it works,” Jerard said. “What the qualifying conditions are, what’s involved in verifying someone has one of those conditions.”

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