As Town Meeting Day Draws Near, 43 Vermont Municipalities Prepare to Vote on Retail Cannabis
Dozens of towns across Vermont plan to vote tomorrow on whether to allow retail cannabis sales.
Many of the articles on local ballots are the result of citizen-led campaigns from advocates in towns like Bristol, Hartford and Essex.
The municipal opt-in process is required under Act 164, which automatically allows licenses for cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers and testing, but requires an opt-in vote for retail licenses.
(Full list of towns appears at the end of this article)
In Vermont, 36% of survey respondents say they’re either somewhat or very likely to buy a cannabis product at one of the new stores, according to a poll from VPR and Vermont PBS.
VTDigger reported on Friday, however, that lawmakers have been hearing “very little” about cannabis from their constituents, especially compared to two years ago. Among them was Rep. Tommy Walz, D-Barre City, who in an email summed up the comments he’s heard as “ZILCH.”
Prior to this year, 33 cities and towns opted to allow retail establishments, according to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) in their recent Town Meeting Day Preview report.
In addition to providing a snapshot of which cities and towns are voting, the VLCT’s report decried H.701, the House bill that sets licensing fees for cannabis businesses.
“Unfortunately, the House has moved forward a bill, H.701, that would cap municipal cannabis regulatory fees at $100, while capping state fees at $100,000,” the report said. “Worse, fewer than 20 towns – those with existing option taxes in place – are set to share in the tens of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue retail cannabis is expected to generate.”
About twenty communities have local option taxes in place and will have the authority to collect a one percent local option sales tax on the retail sale of cannabis later this year.
Voters in at least four other communities – Barre City, Fair Haven, Montgomery, and Woodstock – are considering implementing local option taxes this year.
A bill (S.152) still sitting in the finance committee, would distribute excise tax revenue to host communities totaling 4% of their retail sales in the previous quarter.
Some 40 towns are aiming to hold some sort of in-person gathering on Town Meeting Day. However, 175 of Vermont’s 246 municipalities are opting for Covid-19-safe elections.
All early voter absentee ballot requests must be submitted by 5 p.m. or by the close of the town clerk’s office on the day before the election.
These 43 towns and cities have been verified and have cannabis on their town meeting day ballot:
Barre City, Bolton, Bristol, Castleton, Chester, Derby, Eden, Essex Town, Fair Haven, Fayston, Ferrisburgh, Grand Isle, Hardwick, Hartford, Leicester Town, Manchester, Marlboro, Middlesex, Milton, Moretown, Mount. Holly, New Haven, Norton, Pittsford, Poultney, Proctor, Putney, Richford, Rockingham, Rutland City, Rutland Town, Sheldon, Springfield, St. Albans Town, Stockbridge, Stratton, Swanton, Vernon, Waitsfield, Wallingford, Wilmington, Wolcott, and Woodstock.