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New cannabis recommendations have Vermont towns seeing green

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 4:50 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - More Vermont towns are approving the future sale of marijuana. And as regulators continue to shape the emerging industry, a new forecast indicates how much cash is at stake.

In a special election Wednesday, the town of Londonderry voted 116 to 82 to allow cannabis retailers to set up shop when retail sales are expected a year from now.

Town officials say they’re well-positioned, being at the crossroads of iconic ski resorts Stratton, Magic Mountain, and Okemo. “It could help boost the economy and bring consumers into the town who could shop at a cannabis store and at other businesses in town,” said Londonderry Selectboard Chair Tom Cavanah.

Vermont is rolling along with setting up its taxed and regulated market for cannabis. and a new report to lawmakers shows just how much green the Green Mountains could bring in.

A new market analysis estimates Vermont could see some $245-million in sales by 2025 and state coffers could get upward of $46 million. It outlines how to meet the demand by outlining how many growing, processing, and retail licenses should be allowed, and how much they should cost.

“It sets up a structure that will create a craft quality industry for Vermont,” said James Pepper, chair of the Cannabis Control Board.

There are also guidelines for how big grow operations can be -- up to 25,000 square feet indoors and 37,000 square feet outdoors. It recommends that retailers would need to spend between $1,000 and $10,000 for a license.

The report calls for reducing the cost of licenses for Vermonters of color and those harmed by the war on drugs. Towns like Londonderry that allow the sale of pot can also get a cut of up to 2% of sales revenue. “It actually is a gold standard on how a small rural state can do cannabis regulation in a smart effective way,” Pepper said.

Vermont lawmakers now need to give the recommendations a second look and make any changes if needed.

Back in Londonderry, officials say their work is far from over. They still need to decide whether to create their own cannabis control board and there are updated zoning bylaws in the works. “Cannabis-related businesses will have to apply for permits like any other business and they’ll be treated the same as any other business,” said Londonderry Town Clerk Kelly Pajala.

She says they are interested in helping find a path forward for any business that wants to come to town.

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