Vermont officials say cannabis tax revenue on track

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 4:38 PM EST
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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont officials say the state has collected $329,231 in excise tax according to the revenue report released through the end of November. The state’s retail cannabis marketplace opened Oct. 1 and the revenue report is a sign the industry is already having an economic impact.

“I bought me a pre-roll and an eighth of some Afghani,” said Josh Jones, one the dozens of customers who stopped by the Vermont Bud Barn in Brattleboro Tuesday to purchase cannabis. The store has been averaging about 80 customers a day since it first opened back in October. “It’s not getting mixed or stepped on. Fentanyl these days -- you don’t know what they are doing with the stuff,” Jones added.

The average sale per customer at the store is between $80 and $90. And many customers are coming from out of state. “We get a lot of New Hampshire people and we actually get a lot of Massachusetts people because even though they can buy it down there, there is a perception that Vermont will have high quality,” said the store’s Scott Sparks.

In addition to the state’s 6% sales tax, cannabis businesses also collect an additional 14% excise tax. That is an additional $329,231 in revenue that the state has collected through the end of November.

Despite a slow start in October with only a handful of shops open, Nellie Marvel with the Vermont Cannabis Control Board says it is where they expected to be. “Those numbers are actually right on track with our projected numbers from our financial model,” she said. The state now has two dozen stores and Marvel says they are expecting tax dollars to steadily increase. “The number of retailers that are open, the price of cannabis -- and the price of cannabis, of course, is a function of the number of cultivators that are licensed, the size of their harvest -- and the state’s tourism numbers.”

They say the first full fiscal year -- beginning next summer -- could net the state upward of $16 million. But Governor Phil Scott is downplaying the potential economic impact. “We shouldn’t count on the revenue to any great extent,” he said.

However, retailers are already seeing a steady number of customers. “Weekends -- we can do up to about 150. I think our number one day we did 162,” Sparks said.

He says they only expect sales to increase but adds that competition will likely get stronger as more stores open their doors.

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