Vt. cannabis marketplace spurring ancillary business growth

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT
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NORTH SPRINGFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s new cannabis retail market has been operating for one month and regulators have so far approved more than a dozen retail licenses. And as the market grows, businesses connected to the marketplace are also growing.

As growers around the region are harvesting cannabis this fall, storage of the product has become crucial to maintaining a steady supply for stores. And business owners in North Springfield say they have just the right product for the region’s growing industry.

“These are units for home use. We have shipped thousands of them worldwide,” explained David Sandelman with VT Dry & Cure Technologies.

The concept is simple. The wet flower goes in and in eight days the dried product is ready to be consumed. The units regulate dew point and can also store cannabis for longer periods. Sandelman and his wife got into the cannabis market four years ago after spending years in the cheese and meat curing industry. “And what is interesting, the cannabis flower cures over time, it improves with time. So, now you can start thinking about cannabis like you would with a wine or a cheese that gets better with time,” he said.

That is, if it’s stored properly, Sandelman cautions He says over-drying can drastically decrease quality. Cannabis can also mold and wilt. And the region is about to get an influx of flower as more than 200 licensed growers harvest their crops. Right now, 16 retail licenses have been approved across the region, but all the product cannot hit the stores at the same time.

“We’ve had flower in a box for two years and it still comes out sticky and supple,” Sandelman said. He said VT Dry & Cure technologies can scale up to dry and store hundreds of pounds of cannabis at a time, making It a market within a market.

“It is going to drive innovation and people are going to find various elements to this market and really monopolize and monetize those,” said James Pepper with the state’s Cannabis Control Board. He says long-term storage is key for growers, especially outdoor growers who only have one or two harvests a year and need to provide a steady supply. Pepper says hundreds of growers were licensed by design to create a diversified ecosystem of small cultivators that will give Vermont a competitive edge, similar to how it made a name for itself in the craft beer industry. “Yes, there are some early supply chain issues that are driven or exacerbated by having so many cultivators. In the long run, this is a benefit for Vermont.”

Sandelman’s business is already reaping the benefits. He says the first large unit is being shipped two a grower in Plainfield in the next week or so. “This is the old area where the machine shops were and they are all gone and now we are bringing a new industry to the region,” he said.

The units are not cheap, with a small one for home growers starting at $1,600. Bigger units can run upwards of $40,000.

The fledgling industry is also contributing to a growing labor pool. Officials say the state has so far issued 300 cannabis employee licenses.

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