Key report due soon on Vermont’s retail pot plan

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 7:57 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board is just under two weeks away from a key report to lawmakers. It’s recommending how many licenses should be issued and how much those will cost.

Eli Adam farms and processes hemp into CBD at Fragrant Reed in Hardwick. He’s been in the business for four years and recalls when hemp supply outstripped demand.

“That excitement and that hype turned into a different reality quickly,” Adam said.

Having gone through the boom and bust of hemp, he’s worried Vermont’s emerging cannabis market will be dominated by big growers and big retailers. He’s hoping that small growers and those who operate in the black market will be given tools to be part of the emerging industry.

“We wonder if we want to participate and if we look at what happened with CBD, there’s no reason to think that’s not the same thing that’s going to happen with cannabis,” Adam said.

Under state law, Adam will be able to begin growing sometime next year.

The regulatory Cannabis Control Board has been hammering out details all summer of how this market will work and how it will support small growers like Adam.

Their recommendations of how much it should be taxed are due to the Legislature on Oct. 1.

At the same time, a handful of subcommittees are coming up with recommendations on local control, taxation and even social equity.

“And with every one of those decisions we make, does this need to happen for small cultivators, is this something that we can waive for a small cultivator,” said James Pepper, the chair of the Cannabis Control Board.

Projections of how much money the market will bring in are due out Wednesday. But Pepper says a new analysis estimates the state will need upward of 500,000 square feet of canopy to meet demand.

And as we set up our market, leaders are trying to bring as many growers from the existing black market into the regulated market.

“What that means to me is have unlimited small cultivator licenses available. But can those small cultivator licenses meet that 500,000 square feet of canopy?” Pepper said.

He says the board is considering issuing provisional licenses to small growers in an effort to meet the demand.

Pepper says even after the report, there’s still lots of work to do. And he says public input is a must. Adam agrees.

“If they want to correct that and create a space where people can step forward out of the shadows, feel safe and show their quality, then the state will really have something to show,” Adam said.

Setting Vermont cannabis apart from the rest.

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