Flooding forces some Vt. pot shops to relocate, look to ‘Higher Calling’ for help

Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 5:40 PM EDT
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - Dispensaries impacted by last month’s flooding are still picking up the pieces and trying to find ways to stay open, even if that means having to temporarily relocate.

Since cannabis is still a Schedule 1 drug at the federal level, businesses are not eligible for Small Business Administration loans. But after the flood wiped out some stores, cannabis retailers and growers came up with a way to raise money for relief with music.

The July flooding hit Forbins Finest in Barre.

“The water came in pretty hard, pretty fast,” said Angela Payette, who co-owns Forbin’s Reserve, Inc.

Much of their business was spared but they lost a few days of business. The owners were happy to open back up soon after.

“To get right back into action, get back open so that people can have just a little bit of relief in some tough times,” said Brandon Marshall, who co-owns Forbin’s Reserve, Inc.

Others weren’t so lucky.

“The North Branch River was cresting over and immediately flooded the back parking lot as we were pulling out and we haven’t been able to move back in since,” said Lauren Andrews, who owns Capital Cannabis in Montpelier.

Andrews was able to temporarily relocate her store to the Central Vermont Marketplace in Berlin.

To help get shops like Andrews’ back up and running, the Cannabis Retailers Association of Vermont is now selling tickets to Higher Calling, a two-day music festival in Cabot.

“Any money that we make from sponsorships that exceeds the expense of the festival, 100% of those funds will go into the fund to support cannabis businesses,” said Todd Bailey, the executive director of the Cannabis Retailers Association of Vermont.

Bailey says the Cannabis Retailers Association of Vermont had been planning the festival several months prior to the flood. They quickly shifted gears to turn it into a fundraising effort. It’s a welcome message for Andrews, who likely won’t be able to get back to her Montpelier space for another few months.

“We’re all in it together and to join as a group and to move forward to help other people in our industry just makes sense,” Andrews said.

Organizers hope around 1,500 tickets will be sold for Higher Calling. It’s set to be held Sept. 15 and 16 in Cabot, at Pransky Farm.

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Vt. cannabis growers, retailers band together for ‘Higher Calling’