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Vermont Cannabis Organization: Advocacy, Education, And Collaboration

Susan Snowden with an x-ray of her reconstructed pelvis.
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Kathryn Blume 3 Nov 2019

On a blustery Saturday morning in October, Vermont Cannabis Organization convened its first meetup of cannabis growers, makers, appreciators, and cannacurious individuals at Mary’s restaurant in Bristol.

A coalition of professionals committed to outreach and partnership in Vermont’s newly emerging cannabis industry, VCO’s intention, says founder Susan Snowden, is “to create and host a discrete, professional space for conversations about cannabis to germinate, take root, and grow — grow into a network of collaboration and abundance for all of us.”

After networking over coffee and fresh baked goods, the participants sat down and introduced themselves to the group, sharing their backgrounds and level of activity in the cannabis industry.

Snowden, herself, kicked off the conversation by holding up an x-ray of her pelvis, much of which had been destroyed following the “catastrophic failure of a hip replacement.” Doctors tried to recreate her pelvic girdle so she could walk, leaving her with nerve damage that immobilized her right leg.

A longtime crafter of natural body care products, Snowden started incorporating cannabis into a salve, which she brought to her massage therapist. Over time, the tissues in her leg started to change, and she regained her ability to walk.

“I’m here,” said Snowden, “because I’ve seen miraculous things happen with people from a health standpoint.”

Snowden also articulated the goals of VCO, which include advocating cannabis and the people interested in bringing the plant to the world; educating the Vermont community about what cannabis is (and what it’s not); and setting up collaborations between cannabis enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.

Then the other attendees introduced themselves, their interests, and concerns.

“I remember a guy in 90s with a farm in Addison County who would come to chamber events and talk about hemp. He always got shot down and he’d leave. I wonder where he is today.” – Barbara Harding, Business Owner

“Vermont should make a brand that people will reach for like a top shelf liqueur. Im cheering for the little guys, the farmers, who need an economic boost. I hope this will create a wealthy Vermont.” – Cindy Kleh, Writer

The IRS will be deep in everyone’s business once it’s legal. There are very peculiar rules about business expenses. Accuracy penalties can run $40-50,ooo. It’s going to be smart for businesses to make sure they’re within the law. I’m here to support the effort, the movement. – Kevin Prindle, CPA

“We need an inclusive landscape that allows people to come in out of the cold. The Vermont way is the mom and pop, all inclusive, get out there and do it.” – Greg Newman, Emeraldrose Grows (left)

“We haven’t even scratched the surface of what cannabis can do. I’ve spent a lot of time in California and Colorado. Vermont can do something special. We need to start planning for that.” – Meg Burns, Meg Burns UX (right)

“Back in the 90s, I started the Vermont Grassroots Party. UVM was ready to have a 2 acre pilot program for hemp. Nonetheless, nothing came of it. I was there at the time. So I’m really happy to come back to Vermont now and see everything coming.” – Wyatt Waterman, Activist (center)

“I’ve had chronic insomnia since 1980. I started smoking recently. It’s harsh on my lungs. I want to find out more about edibles.” – Jerry, Citizen (left)

I had a major stroke 3 years ago from a medication. I came out of it realizing how broken our health care system is. Then, I had the luxury of finding, at the top of the hill in Vergennes, Vermont Pure CBD. I got certified by UVM Medical school in the science and medicine of cannabis. Every day I spend my entire day talking to people who are scared, and want to be transformed by cannabis. They’re celebrating the fact that they can sleep, they aren’t anxious, they’re gaining control of their life.” – Kate Coburn, Advocate (center)

“20 years ago I was involved in snowboarding accident and got terrible migraines. After my 3rd hospital visit, I didn’t want to be a part of that system. I realized cannabis could help with migraines. I got flower, seeds, and haven’t looked back. I’ve been able to manage pain, anxiety, sleep all through cannabis. I’m here to educate and want a bigger platform on all the ways cannabis can help us take control of our bodies and not be a part of a system that gives us medications we can’t pronounce and don’t know outcomes.” – Ali Friedman, Nexus Vermont (right)

“There is black market price, and there’s dispensary price. A lot of black market stuff has better quality. A lot of local artisans could carve their niche, and be known for specific stuff. I believe that we can do it like cheese or apples or craft beer.” – Thomas Poppy, Cannabis Farmer

VCO will be having meetings, and other educational events around Addison County. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

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