By Patrick Wagner
A small handful of people can be credited for bringing medical marijuana to Vermont. Champlain Valley Dispensary director Shayne Lynn is definitely one of them. Lynn helped pen the legislation that allowed the state’s first dispensary and campaigned throughout his home state to get the financial foundation that opened the doors for medical marijuana in Vermont.
“I started doing this six years ago, going to the statehouse and getting involved politically,” Lynn said. “I definitely helped in drafting the laws. I applied for the license three years ago and was awarded one license to start.”
After nearly a year, one of Vermont’s marijuana business licenses was still open. At that point, Lynn’s group applied for — and received — its second license. Each license includes a permit for a cultivation center and a dispensary. Lynn is now responsible for two of the four dispensaries allowed in Vermont. Champlain Valley Dispensary is located in Burlington, while Southern Vermont Dispensary is in Battleboro. He’s in the process of setting up his second cultivation facility, but the hardest part of the business is making sure it stays funded.
As a non-profit, Lynn doesn’t own the business, he said. He’s the founder and the director, and he’s also on the board of directors, but he’s not an owner.
“It can be real hard to raise money that way,” he said. “People ask, ‘What kind of equity are you going to have?’ And I’m like, ‘Um … none?’
“In the beginning it was family and friends, and people here in the state of Vermont who were interested in the cause and the medicine. My approach was to find lots of people in the $10-20,000 range and we were lucky enough to find two people who were willing to give larger amounts and that really became the foundation.”
Lynn said his next move will be to hire a human resources manager to help with his 30 employees. He said it’s great having so many people together striving for the same goals, but Vermont’s strict and unique regulations make it vital that all employees keep the dispensaries in compliance.
In Vermont, dispensaries are only allowed to serve one patient at a time, and each patient must have a reservation before arriving at the dispensary, Lynn said. Like most states, patients must have qualifying conditions and have a doctor’s recommendation. However, after buying cannabis at a dispensary, patients must transport the product in a locked box.
“The community here, they’re not liberal in that interpretation (of state regulations),” he said. “It’s genuinely medical. We have patients that pass away each month.”