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Moving At A Faster Pace – A CannaCurious Interview with VTCC Co-Founder Michael Jager

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Rob Williams 20 Aug 2018

HVT: Three years ago, you were a co-founder and member of the Vermont Cannabis Collaborative (VTCC), which produced our 60 page VTCC visioning document entitled “What cannabis can do for Vermont.”  You’ve thought long and hard about the future of hemp and cannabis here in the Green Mountains. As Vermont celebrates almost 2 months of legalization, where do you see Vermont going next with hemp and cannabis?

MJ: Toward a real awakening as to the true potential and real understanding of how Vermont can be a meaningful part of the very clear cultural changes and nationally rising opportunities in cannabis and hemp…including all the health and economic dimensions they include.

HVT: Are you satisfied with the pace with which the Vermont state government has rolled out medical and (soon) recreational cannabis legalization?

MJ: In all honesty, no. Our state could have and should have been capable of moving at a faster pace, in my opinion. With so much knowledge and information available and with the ability to leverage the knowledge and lessons from others who leaned in to the cultural shift, we could have and should have used our ability as a state government and led by example – with a Vermont way of learning, uniquely advancing our ideas, as we have in so many other categories.

The entrepreneurial pioneers and leaders need to be working collaboratively, realizing they are not only shaping their idea and business, but that they are also part of shaping the industry, economy, and cultural idea of cannabis and hemp simultaneously. They’ve got to be prepared to be responsible and collaborative as well as inspiringly competitive.

HVT: What’s your take on Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s creation of a Marijuana Advisory Commission to help shape hemp and cannabis’ future?

MJ: We already created a smart model designed to advance understanding and education with the VTCC three years ago. An advisory group is a smart idea, but behind timing-wise, and its design and facilitation must be very insightfully guided.

HVT: What are the biggest obstacles to a legal, regulated, taxed cannabis and hemp industry in Vermont, in your mind?

MJ: Trust and education.

HVT: What advice do you have for Vermonters interested in hemp and cannabis agri’preneurialism?

MJ: Participate in building trust in each other and invest in your own education and the education of those you collaborate and engage with. The entrepreneurial pioneers and leaders need to be working collaboratively, realizing they are not only shaping their idea and business, but that they are also part of shaping the industry, economy, and cultural idea of cannabis and hemp simultaneously. They’ve got to be prepared to be responsible and collaborative as well as inspiringly competitive.

HVT: Describe your hemp and cannabis related work since VTCC. What value added do you hope to add to the Vermont hemp and cannabis landscape, and how?

The creation of a well-designed Vermont cannabis, hemp, botanical “center of excellence” would be a profoundly smart and meaningful action that is outlined in the VTCC report. It would have a huge ability to position Vermont uniquely and intelligently in the category nationally.

MJ: Advancing education through collaboration by engaging in the process and being part of the cultural change in a positive way, listening carefully, and learning from other states and countries engaged and sharing these insights with organizational groups forming in Vermont to help guide and inform Vermont ideas and ideals.

HVT: Reflecting on the VTCC vision from 2015-2016, do you imagine ways that our VTCC report and work might be useful for Vermont going forward?

MJ: Absolutely. The creation of a well-designed Vermont cannabis, hemp, botanical “center of excellence” would be a profoundly smart and meaningful action that is outlined in the VTCC report. It would have a huge ability to position Vermont uniquely and intelligently in the category nationally.

HVT: Any other insights re: cannabis and hemp in Vermont you’d like to share?

MJ: To paraphrase Bob Dylan: Know your song well before you start singin’.

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