You can help create real grassroots political change in Vermont — and maybe we can even use cannabis reform as a way to demonstrate a different kind of political action, driven by real Vermonters.
Our names are Eli Harrington and Monica Donovan, and we’ve spent the past two years as cannabis reform advocates, and as the founders of Heady Vermont, an independent media platform here in Vermont with a focus on cannabis.
At Heady Vermont, we create high-quality, original cannabis media and events that engage the canna-curious, canna-conscious and canna-consumer – that includes industrial hemp, CBD, medical cannabis, adult use, and the politics intertwined with it all.
The opponents of cannabis reform are well-funded and well-organized.
Unlike traditional and conventional media outlets, we are unapologetic advocates for common sense cannabis reform that better reflects the mindset of our fellow free-thinking, independent, and industrious northeasterners of all ages and backgrounds.
We’re steadily blazing a trail towards cannabis legalization and as a state, have made significant medical marijuana reforms. However, in Vermont, as in many other states, there is no legal referendum process, legalization can only happen via the Vermont legislature passing a bill that is signed (or simply not vetoed) by the Governor. Without a simple yes/no referendum and a popular vote, the cannabis reform process is even messier in Vermont and as we’ve learned, requires dedicated time in the State House, dogged political reporting, and engaging media that informs the public about the law-making process and how to MAXIMIZE the impact of ‘regular’ citizens.
The opponents of cannabis reform are well-funded and well-organized:
* “Smart Approaches to Marijuana” has already spent $20,000 in out-of-state money in Vermont to oppose progress;
* In-state opponents, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns have spent over $36,000 on their full-time lobbyists;
* The Vermont Medical Society, whose approved anti-cannabis platform is literally taken from 2002, have $31,000 invested in their full-time lobbyists.
* All figures from Vermont Secretary of State Vermont Lobbying Information Portal.
Despite positive experiences from other states, the popular support from the majority of Vermonters, and the Vermont legislature’s historic 2017 passage of legalization (vetoed by Governor Phil Scott), advocates have been outmaneuvered and defeated by a small number of lobbyists with the funding and insider familiarity to disproportionately represent and defeat the grassroots efforts of the majority advocating for cannabis.
THANKS for being a part of the growing movement for common sense cannabis reform! We look forward to elevating the conversation and working together to create real grassroots change.
OUR POLICY PLATFORM:
In the interest of transparency, the unweighted platform below that will guide our advocacy is listed below. When someone asks, for what are you advocating in terms of cannabis reforms, we have very specific responses.
This list is not necessarily in order of top priority or what is most realistic; however, these are reforms that most involved and familiar with cannabis policy, medical programs, and the industry, would all consider reasonable and realistic (even if not all at once), and would bring Vermont closer to the pace of our neighbors in Massachusetts and Maine in terms of medical and adult use policy.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA REFORMS
Designed to advance the interest of patients, who would be allowed to grow more of their own medicine, while also more freely accessing dispensary products. Would also start to address expanding caregivers to help support multiple patients.
- Increase patient plant counts for personal cultivation to up to six (6) total mature adult plans. This total for registered medical marijuana patients would be equivalent to the equivalent of any adult in Maine and Massachusetts.
- Increase total maximum amount that can be purchased at a dispensary to four (4) ounces per month from the present two (2) ounces per month.
- Allow patients to purchase cannabis from any licensed Vermont dispensary, not just their designated dispensary; track patient purchases via statewide recording card.
- Allow Vermont dispensaries to sell up to one ounce per month of legal cannabis to legally registered medical marijuana card-holders from other states.
- Allow caregivers to grow for up to three registered Vermont medical marijuana patients
- Allow up to three/five caregivers and patients to grow in the same space
LEGALIZATION OF SMALL AMOUNTS OF POSSESSION AND HOME CULTIVATION FOR ADULTS
Bill H.511 in Vermont House of Representatives, almost identical to bill vetoed by Governor Phil Scott in 2017…personally, we would like to see us have same rights as Massachusetts, but this is set up to pass as long as it’s protected from unrelated issues being tacked on, like a per-se THC limit.
- Eliminate criminal penalties for personal cultivation of up to two (2) total mature plants and up to six (6) immature plants for ALL Vermont residents at least 21 years of age or older. Maximum of up to eight (8) mature plants per household.
- Eliminate criminal penalties for personal possession of up to one (1) total ounce of dried flower product and paraphernalia. Total does not include cannabis legally harvested from home grow. [H.511, currently in Vermont House]
- Sales of cannabis remain illegal, up to one ounce of cannabis may be legally gifted per month.
Allows small cultivators to get into the regulated, legal market by selling tested, documented, medical-grade cannabis to patients via the state’s registered dispensaries.
- $500 for up to 500 ft.^2 for annual cultivation, opportunity to scale up to four (4) total plots, or 2000 ft^2
- Could be plant-count specific instead of space; vary for indoor/outdoor
- Overseen by Agency of Agriculture, similar to hemp program
- Producers must have products tested by a qualified third-party testing company
Creates the paradigm that small producers can access legal markets, but must certify via an approved testing lab that cannabis is accurate (regular cannabinoid batch testing) and safe (semi-annual soil/mold/fungicide testing). Create standards for Vermont state-approved testing facilities and collect an annual license fee from those approved testing facilities.
- Cannabinoid batch testing for all sold products for consistency and labeling
- Source materials
- Completed product
- Semi-annual contaminant testing for mold, pesticides, fungicides, and other harmful materials.
HOW WE WILL RAISE THE MONEY:
Using the existing Heady Vermont grassroots network and earned industry/regional/national media, we aim to reach at least 10,000 individuals, as well as cannabis businesses and entrepreneurs advocating for the overall industry. Out-of-state donations are welcome from individuals, as well as from private businesses.
Goal: $3,333 per month or $20,000 total for six months (December through May)
Stretch Goal: $5000 per month or $30,000 total for six months
If additional funds are raised above $30,000, 10% or more of proceeds from those excess funds will be donated to a Vermont-based charity, as determined and voted upon by donors.
WHAT WE’LL PRODUCE:
- Two days per week minimum in state house (Eli Harrington, live-tweeting and updating via @HeadyVermont social media channels.
- Weekly one-hour Facebook Live streaming show with interactive Q&A
- Weekly legislative briefing memo with updates from the state house.
- Direct outreach to at least twenty (20) representatives each week via phone calls tracked by New Grassroots
- Host one live call-bank session each month in person in Winooski
- Paid advertising across a variety of media
- Minimum of 20% spent on paid media advertising
- Front Porch Forum geo-targeting
- Seven Days Print
- VTDigger Online
- VPR Radio
- Minimum of 20% spent on paid media advertising
- Custom Advocacy Media
- Production and distribution of at least one thirty (:30) second video advertisement to be shared on Heady Vermont digital media platforms
- Production and distribution of at least one thirty (:30) second audio advertisement, to be shared on Heady Vermont digital media platforms and Vermontijuana podcast.
Join the growing movement for common sense cannabis reform.
Choose a one-time amount that best suits you – donors to our grassroots advocacy campaign receive legislative e-mail updates, postcards, business promotion and more!