ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. — Nearly 50 cannabis advocates and professionals gathered last night for a lively discussion that spanned politics, advocacy, education and business during the second meeting of the Vermont chapter of Women Grow.

Women Grow founding member Maureen McNamara speaks at the Women Grow Networking Event at the Lang Barn in Essex Junction, Vermont on Thursday, June 2 2016. by Monica Donovan for Heady Vermont.

Women Grow founding member Maureen McNamara speaks at the Women Grow Networking Event at the Lang Barn in Essex Junction, Vermont on Thursday, June 2 2016. by Monica Donovan for Heady Vermont.

Hosted at Lang Barn by owner and fellow advocate John Lang, the speakers included Women Grow founding member Maureen McNamara, Sen. Dave Zuckerman, Rep. Sam Young and Vermont Hemp Company Founder Joel Bedard. Sen. Zuckerman and Rep. Young spent some time talking about what went wrong in the previous session and what could be done better next time to ensure that legalization and regulation move forward. McNamara, founder of Cannabis Trainers, talked about economic possibilities for Vermont and urged advocacy and education throughout Vermont. One attendee asked, as a nonsmoker, how she could advocate for cannabis without placing herself at risk. Another expressed concern about the overt police presence during legislative hearings and votes. At times, the audience engaged with one another and pitched in answers to each other’s questions, resulting in more of an elevated group discussion than a one-sided Q&A.

Hemp starters from Vermont Hemp Company were on display at the Women Grow Networking Event at the Lang Barn in Essex Junction, Vermont on Thursday, June 2 2016. by Monica Donovan for Heady Vermont.

Hemp starters from Vermont Hemp Company were on display at the Women Grow Networking Event at the Lang Barn in Essex Junction, Vermont on Thursday, June 2 2016. by Monica Donovan for Heady Vermont.

Though the ticket prices were steep ($25 early bird and $40 at the door), the freebies were plentiful. Because the event coincided with Hemp History Week, many were of the hemp persuasion. Bedard provided hemp seeds (with the stipulation that licenses must be obtained from the Agency of Agriculture prior to planting), and Vermont chapter founder and Chairwoman Mia Feroleto included samples of Charlotte’s Web and Dr. Bronner’s hemp soap in each attendee goodie bag. Craft brews, including a specialty hemp ale with hemp from Vermont Hemp Company, were on draft by Green Empire Brewing. Two-foot tall hemp starters, on either side of the bar, swayed in the early summer breeze, a bittersweet hint of things to come. Vermont Cannabis: Heady Vermont Watermark

The next Women Grow Networking Event takes place on Thursday, July 7. Details TBD.

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