St. Johnsbury joins growing list of towns approving retail cannabis

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
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ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - Residents of St. Johnsbury are the latest of more than 20 Vermont communities to approve the sale of recreational marijuana in their communities.

Residents voted Tuesday by a margin of just 31 votes to say yes to cannabis stores. Town Manager Chad Whitehead says he has asked the planning commission to look at current zoning bylaws. “To determine where we would want to see or not want to see recreational marijuana establishments,” he said.

Vermont has yet to roll out statewide regulations for pot shops. Members of the new Cannabis Control Board have been named, but have not been approved by the Senate.

Retail marijuana stores could potentially bring tens of millions in revenue to the state but it’s not known how much, if any, of those dollars will trickle down to individual towns that host them. “We’ll have to manage things, but someone else is going to get the revenue can make things a little difficult for a municipality. Whether it creates a tourism market, I don’t know,” Whitehead said.

Some residents feel giving marijuana stores the greenlight is a no-brainer. “It’s just like any other tobacco or alcohol facility,” said Amanda Goad.

Others are more conflicted. “For the younger generations, trying to teach our kids that marijuana is not the way to go,” said Carrie Carrasco.

A local businessman in St. Johnsbury approached town officials to put the question on the town meeting ballot, but no one has made a formal pitch yet to set up a shop. “Right now we are kind of in a holding pattern,” Whitehead said.

There is still time for the issues and concerns to be ironed out. Retail marijuana stores will not be opening in the Green Mountain State until October 2022.

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