It is an exciting time for Vermont as the state prepares for adult-use licensing next summer. With Yahoo Finance estimating the current Vermont adult-use recreational market at $230 million a year, this is a pivotal time for the state’s cannabis entrepreneurs. Vermont boasts 14 million annual tourists who travel here for the foliage, mountains and the state’s reputation to provide quality, hand-crafted products, which will now include Vermont’s finest cannabis.
Appointed in October 2021, the Cannabis Control Board is currently drafting rules and creating a process to begin issuing licenses in May 2022. Retail stores are expected to open in October 2022.
Here are some notable and unique aspects of Vermont’s regulatory scheme:
– Staying true to the state’s history, the proposed adult-use recreational market focuses on creating success for small, craft cultivators. The small tier cultivator’s license allows for a 1,000-square-foot canopy grow and is expected to be easy to obtain, with a low licensing fee. This license is perfect for modest Vermont growers looking for an opportunity to take part in the industry.
– Vertical integration will be allowed in Vermont; each business may own one cultivation, manufacturing and retail license, which will allow an establishment to sell their own products if they so choose. However, there is a limit of one license type per company that will keep large operators from monopolizing the industry. There is no cap on total licensees, so the number of suitable locations, rather than regulatory limits, will ultimately impact the total number of cannabis ventures.
– Vermont will also prioritize social equity and environmental sustainability in its cannabis industry. The Legislature passed a bill to create a Cannabis Business Development Fund to help with business expenses for minorities and those who have otherwise been impacted by the War on Drugs. Applicants may also include their personal plan to address social equity. It will be equally important to have a plan to limit the environmental impact of each cannabis business.
The takeaway is that Vermont will have one of the most easily accessible cannabis industries in the country, with relatively low barriers to entry and no caps on the total number of licenses. Vermont’s reputation for quality, small-batch products will set its cannabis industry apart from surrounding states and offer Vermonters unprecedented opportunities for economic growth.
Bailey LaFlamm & Andrew Subin | Vermont Cannabis Solutions