MILTON, Vt. — Sitting in a nondescript industrial park, Champlain Valley Dispensary‘s Milton facility is an unassuming boxy building amongst a sea of others. Once you step inside the front door, though, the powerful and skunky odor leaves no doubt about CVD’s main focus: medical cannabis. The 20,000 square-foot facility is home to the primary growing facility for CVD, the state’s largest dispensary.
On a wintry Thursday in February, patients filed in to attend “Meet Your Medicine Maker,” an event designed to educate the dispensary’s patients and give them an opportunity to get their questions answered. The event, which quickly maxed out at 45 patients, included an interactive presentation and Q&A session and was open to dispensary staff and registered CVD medical marijuana patients. Before sitting down, patients got a tour of the facilities from Director Shayne Lynn, peering into windowed rooms to get a glimpse of the growing process. In the large and brightly lit flowering room, row after row of sticky green colas blew gently in the wind.
CVD Retail Operations Manager Chris Copley kicked off the presentation with an intro and update on recent events, noting that the nonprofit is lobbying hard in the state of Vermont to make the patient registration process “more user-friendly.” The Department of Public Safety’s website lists the Vermont Marijuana Registry just under the Sex Offender Registry on its Vermont Crime Information Center page, a rather sobering experience for patients navigating an industry already in a state of wildly oscillating legal flux. “I mean, what are we, worse than sex offenders?” Copley exclaimed to laughter.
Of questions, the patients, a largely older crowd in their forties and up, had many. It was clear that despite being in the program, many attending were still unsure about the basics of medical marijuana. One patient asked about their prescription, and Copley quickly corrected them: Patients are not prescribed medical marijuana in Vermont; their doctor only confirms that they have a qualifying condition.
Other questions that cropped up included dosage, and what’s just the right amount. Copley noted that the dispensary is limited in what it can recommend. “We know from anecdotal evidence that certain products may work for you,” he said. “We can steer you in the right direction but we can’t make medicinal claims.” He encouraged people to do their own research, referring them to third-party sites like Project CBD and other medical cannabis resources.
The event included presentations by CVD’s cultivation, kitchen and lab managers, who walked patients through their backgrounds and processes. Cultivation Manager Chris Williams, who grew tomatoes on an industrial scale around the world before starting at CVD, left Australia to return to Vermont and apply his grow knowledge to the cannabis industry. At the moment, he said, the dispensary had around 3,000 plants in various stages of development. Strains included Sour Kush, Cherry Pie, and an aptly named Green Mountain.
Copley noted that CVD plans to hosts another educational event this summer, this time focused on opiates and cannabis.