Cannabis tax revenue growing in Vermont

Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 5:19 PM EST
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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s retail cannabis market is growing at a steady pace according to the latest tax revenue.

There are just over 40 licensed retail stores selling cannabis across the Green Mountain State. One of the newer ones is the Tea House in White River Junction.

“We are getting down a routine. There is a great staff that works here,” said Miriam Wood, the shop’s owner. She says sales of cannabis have been strong since their opening on December 23. “We are still building out our inventory. Each week, we try to take on something new.”

And as she works to grow her business, recently released tax revenue from the state’s 14% excise tax on cannabis shows the industry, as a whole, is also growing.

During the first month of retail sales, the state collected about $329,000 in cannabis excise taxes. Back then, only a handful of retailers were online. In November, as more stores opened, an additional $523,000 were collected. And in December, the state saw nearly $800,000 in new revenue from the cannabis tax for a total of $1.6 million to date.

“The demand is definitely there. I would like to see the price of cannabis come down a little. It is a little bit more expensive than the black market,” Wood said.

Stephanie Waterman, who co-owns Grow Pro in White River Junction, says the new tax revenue is only a sign of things to come. “Those are just a taste of what we are looking at as more people come online and as we get more growers going -- because we are still outfitting grows all around the state and people are still in the early phases of getting going,” she said.

But Waterman also worries about high prices and says that could delay legacy growers from joining the marketplace. “The onerous regulations surrounding labeling and advertising and all kinds of stuff put a strain on the market and keep prices higher,” she said.

But it’s also clear that the consumer is buying. “I hope the state of Vermont puts this money to good use and improves the state for all of us,” Wood said.

The Cannabis Control Board projects the state will take in roughly $16 million from the cannabis excise tax in its first full fiscal year and officials say so far, the latest numbers in this fledgling marketplace are in line with those projections.

Cannabis excise tax revenue goes to the General Fund. However, 30% of the revenue -- not to exceed $10 million per fiscal year -- will be used to fund substance misuse prevention programming.

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