Vt. cannabis users celebrate 4/20, look forward to legal marketplace

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 4:35 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Cannabis shops could be ready to open next year in Vermont, making the next 4/20 pot-smoking “holiday” a big one. For some marijuana fans, the holiday can be out of this world, but for many, it’s still confusing navigating current state and federal laws.

“4/20 is our unofficial favorite holiday,” said Kelsy Raap with Green State Gardener, a Burlington shop that bills itself as the state’s “largest grow store.”

The Pine Street store offers tools for those with a green thumb of all levels when it comes to cannabis. “We still, even in the single week we have been open here, have seen people coming in and saying, ‘I want to grow for the first time,’” Raap said.

But as marijuana is legal to grow and possess in limited quantities in the state, it’s still tough for some to get procure the seeds to get going -- the stores can’t sell them. “It’s still very difficult to get access to the genetics, because it’s still federally a gray area. It’s federally illegal to sell the seeds,” Raap said.

Access to cannabis products will change when Vermont’s retail marketplace opens. The law passed last year but the rules and regulations are not yet in place. Currently, there are only medical marijuana dispensaries open in the state. Cannabis users remain anxious for the recreational market to open. “There is a thriving illicit market here still in Vermont and we are hoping that opening up this regulated marketplace will bring a lot of those people into the legal market,” said Bridget Conry with the Champlain Valley Dispensary.

Governor Phil Scott let the recreational sales law become law without his signature and critics say he was slow to name the Cannabis Control Board that will oversee the development of the regulated market. Advocates say the process is still on track to get dispensaries open by May of 2022. “Not only do you get some tax revenue but you have the measure of safety and control that the state and the community can exert over cannabis,” said Sen. Chris Pearson, P/D-Chittenden County.

With fully regulated cannabis on the way, will people show up to buy it? Those in the industry say yes. “Vermonters are going to be able to go to a store here in Vermont and buy cannabis that has been lab-tested, it’s labeled appropriately, they know exactly what they are getting,” Conry said.

“The person who wants to grow their own is probably going to buy it as well,” Raap said.

And for those who are trying to grow their own... “It would be nice for seeds and plant-wise, but other than that, it doesn’t really bother me if we get them or not,” said Mike Bessette of South Burlington.

“It’s one of those things. Like, I can buy my tomatoes at the supermarket or I can grow my tomatoes. I’ll buy if I’m running out but I would love to do it myself if I can,” Jack Barron of Williston.

Green State Gardner is giving away seeds for the next 10 days hoping to spark an interest for some.

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