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Vermont towns to vote on cannabis sales

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 5:59 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2021 at 9:19 AM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Voters in 26 communities will decide on this Town Meeting Day, and some later in the year, whether they want to opt into retail cannabis sales.

Burlington, Middlebury, Newport and Montpelier are just a few of the communities voting Tuesday on whether or not retail cannabis sales should be allowed.

Last year, S.54 legalized cannabis sales, but towns have to opt into the system.

Vermont has more than 200 towns but just 26 communities voting on it doesn’t necessarily mean local select boards are pushing back on cannabis sales.

Some say it’s a nuanced conversation and they’d rather wait to have it in person once more people are vaccinated and we can have in-person discussions.

Lawmakers are also working on a few tweaks to the cannabis law which seek to give more opportunities to Vermonters who have felt the impact of the war on drugs.

Racial justice advocates have also come forward with a proposal to create a fund to help Vermonters of color enter the industry but it’s unclear how lawmakers will react to that one.

CANNABIS ROLLOUT DELAYED

The rollout process has been slightly delayed. The governor still has to appoint the three-person Cannabis Control Board. That’s the regulatory body that will come up with specific proposals on how the market will work.

Because of the slowed-down workflow from the remote legislative session, we’re several weeks behind in the process.

Advocates I spoke with say they’re concerned about the delays. By state law, the control board has to issue licenses no later than May 2022 for cultivators and no later than October 2022 for retailers.

They say this delay in appointing the board will set back the rule-writing process.

The governor’s office received about 100 initial applicants for the board. They’ve narrowed it down to those they believe are qualified and sent them to the nominating committee. They recently got that list of applicants back and are in the process of scheduling interviews now.

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