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Vermont Launches Adult-Use Marijuana Sales

Only 3 shops will be open and ready for adult-use sales opening weekend, Oct. 1, in Middlebury, Rutland and Burlington

Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Vermont dispensaries will begin selling marijuana for adult recreational use on Saturday, October 1. But only three shops will be ready to do so on opening weekend, reports the Associated Press.

Flora Cannabis in Middlebury, Mountain Girl Cannabis in Rutland and CeresMed in Burlington all open to adult-use customers on Saturday. The state has licensed a fourth business to sell adult-use weed. But that shop isn’t ready to do so yet. A total of about 50 retailers have prequalified for licensing.

This comes about two years after legalization took effect without the governor’s signature, reports Marijuana Business Daily. At that time, Vermont was the 11th state to legalize. But it was just the second state to legalize through the Legislature rather than through popular vote.

Vermont will join 14 other states with legal adult-use cannabis sales, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Four other states — Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia, along with Washington, D.C. — have legalized adult-use marijuana. But in those locales, legal sales haven’t started yet. 

Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board prioritized review and waived licensing fees for social equity applicants. Equity applicants are Black or Hispanic, or from communities historically and disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition, or who have been or had a family member who has been incarcerated for a cannabis-related offense.

Vermont has approved more than 30 social equity applicants, mostly growers. Mountain Girl Cannabis, owned by Ana and Josh MacDuff, is the first such retailer.

“For us it was really important to be first in Vermont, or one of the first,” said Ana MacDuff, who is Hispanic.

Many Outdoor Cultivators Still Waiting For Licensing

Vermont marijuana stores anticipate having enough supply, for now at least. Some growers, however, grew frustrated at the state’s timeline.

The Cannabis Control Board was simultaneously devising rules and reviewing applicants. Meanwhile, many cultivators anticipated getting their licenses in May. But they didn’t, said Bernardo Antonio, education director for the Vermont Growers Association, a trade group. 

“Outdoor cultivators for this year have gone all year waiting for licenses with the question of whether they should plant or not because they’re trying to make this their business and they can’t really go 16 months without earning,” he said. “So right now, there’s a lot of outdoor cultivators still waiting for licensing. I mean the season’s over for them.”

Regulators and other industry observers have said the licensing delays could create unwelcome supply challenges in the nascent industry’s early stages.

Focus On Consumer Safety

Pepper said he understands the frustration. But he said the board has accomplished a lot and couldn’t have done more given the relatively short amount of time it has been around . That’s not to mention the board’s small initial staff size.

“What we’re focused on at the board is consumer safety and public safety, and honestly, a slow rollout is not the worst thing in the world,” Pepper said.

“I mean in five years, no one’s gonna care. But they will care if there’s a rash of burglaries or if there was a product that was making people sick.”

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