VT News Roundup: Cannabis Control Board Sets School Buffer Zones, More Towns Approve Retail, CeresMED Plans Expansion
MONTPELIER — Late last week, the Vermont Cannabis Control Board set a rule prohibiting retail cannabis stores within 500 feet walking distance from a school. The rule adopted by the board will allow towns to reduce buffer zones – or expand them to up to 1,000 feet. Read on for the top Vermont marijuana news headlines and other alerts:
On Friday, October 15, the Control Board submitted a major proposal to lawmakers that outlines recommended licensing fees and requirements for Vermont’s upcoming adult use cannabis market.
The Board plans to hold several public hearings on the retail market proposal and social equity provisions in the coming weeks. The next public hearing is on Tuesday, October 26 at 6 p.m. and will be livestreamed.
Vermont’s Largest Dispensary Operator Plans Major Project in Milton
CeresMED, formerly Champlain Valley Dispensary, operates four dispensaries and two CBD retail stores in Vermont. By far the largest operator in the state, CeresMED’s parent company has applied for an Act 250 permit for the building of a $6.6 million facility in Milton to grow, harvest and process cannabis, expanding its current operations. The application, received by the state of Vermont on October 4, is in Catamount Industrial Park, and includes a 48,000-square-foot main building as well as stated intentions around alternative energy sources.
The applicant for the Act 250 permit is High Fidelity Inc., the parent company for CeresMED, formerly Champlain Valley Dispensary. More: Burlington Free Press
Londonderry Approves Cannabis Dispensaries
In a special election Wednesday, October 20, the town of Londonderry voted 116 to 82 to allow cannabis retailers to set up shop next year.
Town officials noted that they still had work ahead, including whether to create their own cannabis control board, and updates to zoning bylaws that are in the works. The Londonderry town clerk said they’re “interested in helping find a path forward for any business that wants to come to town.” More: WCAX
Jamaica: Yes to Retail Cannabis, No to Big Weed
On Tuesday, October 19, Jamaica residents voted 55-27 to allow cannabis retailers to set up shop in town and rejected an article to allow integrative licensees in a 70-12 vote.
In March, the town voted 51-37 in favor of an article allowing retail cannabis and integrative licenses. But without publishing a notice in a newspaper, the town didn’t properly warn the vote, so a second vote was scheduled with the two questions presented separately.
In recent months, longtime medical cannabis advocate and resident Fran Janik has been a vocal advocate of separating the two questions for a vote.
If the integrated licenses become allowed for anyone, the issue can be voted on again in Jamaica. More: Bennington Banner
Woodstock Residents Will Vote On Pot Retailers Next March
The Woodstock Village Board of Trustees voted unanimously October 12 to ask the public whether to allow cannabis retail shops in town. The vote will be held at the annual Village Meeting in March. More: Mountain Times
Ludlow Plans Cannabis Retail Vote in November
Ludlow’s Selectboard, during its Monday, October 4 meeting, made plans for structuring the upcoming Retail Cannabis informational meeting to discuss and vote on sales of adult-use cannabis in the town.
The informational meeting is set for Monday, November 1 at 6 p.m. at the Heald Auditorium, with the vote by Australian ballot scheduled for Tuesday, November 2, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. More: Eagle Times
Did You Know?
Currently, under Act 64, a Vermont town must give approval before a retail store can operate within its borders. This is also sometimes called “opt-in.”
CCB Advisory Member Opposes Licensing Committee Decision
On Monday, October 18, Vermont Cannabis Control Board advisory committee member Tim Wessel published an op-ed in VTDigger voicing his opposition to a recent decision by the Licensing Subcommittee to “‘cap’ what local town clerks can charge for a cannabis license to $100 yearly.”
Wessel, also on the Brattleboro Selectboard, is the CCB advisory member with “an expertise in municipal issues,” appointed by the Senate Committee on Committees. The Control Board, as Seven Days reported last week, has, among other things, made recommendations that the legislature direct 1 or 2% of tax revenues to the towns where the sales occurred.
More Op-Eds: Chris Brimmer, the zoning administrator for the town of Fairlee and secretary of the Vermont Progressive Party, also published an op-ed in VTDigger arguing that the 1% option tax be made automatic instead of opt-in.
More CCB Notes: Tax Compliance for Growers and Public Comment
Aside from setting school buffer zone rules on Friday, the Board wrestled with whether to require applicants for provisional licenses to have paid all taxes they owe, but ultimately decided to remove the requirement for previous cannabis operations, requiring tax compliance on everything except past illegal sales of cannabis.
Forcing applicants to reveal that they did not pay taxes on profits from illegal cannabis sales could place them at odds with federal law enforcement.
The body is tasked with encouraging dealers and growers who have been illegally selling cannabis to come into a regulated market, and forcing applicants to reveal that they did not pay taxes on profits from illegal cannabis sales could place them at odds with federal law enforcement. More from Friday: VTDigger
The public can still comment on the proposed rules, including distance from schools, over the coming weeks.
Information was provided last week about the exploratory committee, and the Board has also said that sub-committee meetings will be winding down soon.
What is the exploratory sub-committee? Glad you asked! pic.twitter.com/vzzEBTZWxE
— vermontccb (@vermontccb) October 19, 2021
The Control Board also experienced some technical difficulties and lost data, including public comments submitted since October 7, 2021. Members of the public are encouraged to resubmit their comments to the Board for review.
We’ve had some tech glitches this week – if you’ve submitted a public comment since 10/7, please resubmit it for the Board’s review. Thank you for your patience as we get our website up to speed!
— vermontccb (@vermontccb) October 15, 2021
Looking for the next meetings of the Vermont Cannabis Control Board? Check out the full lineup on our site as well as videos of previous Board meetings, all in one easy place.
Got a news tip or an upcoming opt-in vote you don’t see here? Get in touch!