Vermont issues first cannabis retail licenses

A mature cannabis plant is approaching harvest. The Cannabis Control Board on Wednesday gave the green light to businesses in Middlebury, Rutland and Burlington. But retailers say the start of retail sales next month could be slow. File photo by Glenn Russell/VT Digger

The Middlebury, Rutland and Burlington businesses are the first in Vermont to obtain licenses to sell recreational cannabis.

The state Cannabis Control Board on Wednesday issued retail licenses to FLORA Cannabis in Middlebury and Mountain Girl Cannabis in Rutland ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline.

The board also allowed Ceres Med, formerly Champlain Valley Dispensary, to transition from medical sales to recreational sales.

Businesses can start selling cannabis to adults once they’ve paid their licensing fees, train employees to recognize symptoms of overuse and substance use disorders, and obtain local licenses if their municipality has created a local control commission. Rutland and Middlebury have not these commissions. Burlington does, and prohibits cannabis retail businesses from opening until October.

In a Press release On Wednesday, the Cannabis Control Board acknowledged that it had fallen behind in issuing licenses, especially for outdoor growers, and that this would create early supply shortages.

“For a lot of these outdoor growers, we’re really just starting to get into harvest time,” said Nellie Marvel, Cannabis Control Board outreach and education manager.

Dave Silberman, co-owner of FLORA Cannabis, said his store is aiming for a grand opening on October 1. He congratulated the board despite the delays.

“They do a very difficult job under intense pressure and in the public eye,” said Silberman, an attorney who also represents clients applying for licenses.

He attributed the slow progress, in part, to the FBI’s refusal to let the Cannabis Control Commission use its fingerprint-based background check process. As a result, he said, the council relied on a slower private provider.

Marvel defended the vendor, which it said fired applicants “at a very good time,” but acknowledged the process was slowed down “because we don’t have the authority to do those checks ourselves. antecedents”.

Another reason for the delay, Silberman said, is that the Cannabis Control Board will not issue a license until the Fire Safety Division issues a certificate of occupancy.

Tito Bern, who applied for a retail license to open a store in Burlington, shares that concern. Bern said he couldn’t get loans until he got a license. He predicted it would be “a few years” before Vermont had a thriving adult recreational cannabis market.

Lauren Andrews, owner of Capital Cannabis in downtown Montpelier, just received a certificate of occupancy from the city, she said, and applied for her retail license on Wednesday after doing “a lot of work “inside space.

“I think October 1 for anyone to open is very unrealistic,” Andrews said.

Bern agreed, predicting October 1 “will be a big day of disappointment.” After five years of planning to sell cannabis, it still hopes to be able to open its doors on November 1, while Andrews hopes to open later in October, depending on how quickly it obtains its license.

Bern, owner of the Bern Gallery, a flagship store and glassblowing business in Burlington, said he quit glassblowing five years ago to focus on opening a retail store retail cannabis and obtaining a license to grow cannabis flowers.

Silberman predicted that openings would come “in dribs and drabs.”

“There won’t be many ready retailers,” he said. “There’s not a ton of inventory ready right now and so it’s going to be tough at first.”

Silberman said that few manufacturers (the Cannabis Control Board lists three) and only two test facilities have been licensed. He said he hears from customers who are growers that they wait two to three weeks to have their flower tested.

As a result, he predicted that the products available for sale on October 1 will be primarily cannabis flowers, with very few manufactured products. He also predicted that prices will initially be higher than they will be in six months or a year.

Andrews said many of its suppliers would not be ready when it opens. She expects to have cannabis flowers, edibles, topicals and tinctures, she said, but is less sure about concentrates and vapes.

“We are working on it,” she said.

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