Op-Ed: With Just Weeks Left in the Session, Cannabis Reform Legislation Can’t Wait
As the first week of April comes to a close, with only 9 or so weeks left in the 2022 legislative session, we must remind ourselves of what a wise person once said, “good things come to those who wait”. This seems to be the mindset for Vermont legislators who have progressed very little cannabis legislation through the two chambers in Montpelier since the session began in January.
Vermont NORML has made its mission to hold the legislature accountable and develop avenues for disproportionately impacted individuals to enter the market. What this looks like in our eyes is a low cost and low barrier delivery license, available exclusively to Social Equity Applicants for a window of 10 years. Our proposals received initial indicators of approval from lawmakers but
have yet to be added to any bills. This lack of progress is not unique to delivery but is seen across nearly all current cannabis legislation in Montpelier.
In speaking with state lawmakers, we have deduced that while many legislators are open to the idea of new licenses, expanded protections for small businesses and other social equity focused initiatives, they feel the timing is not now. There is a sense of wanting to wait for the market to open before passing these initiatives. While we understand in some respects the nature of this logic, we feel it is vitally important to provide accessible avenues to entry for low-income, and disproportionately impacted individuals to succeed right now. As of early April, no such avenue exists.
We are also disappointed with the lack of structure around grants and loans set aside for social equity applicants. As we have seen in other legal states, small businesses with no employees can be paying thousands of dollars a month in insurance and other administrative fees. As promised in Act 62, the Cannabis Business Development Fund is set up to provide low-interest loans and grants to social equity applicants, yet we know so little about how to access this money. More information and transparency is needed for this vital resource that could make a significant difference for many small businesses.
Vermont NORML will continue to fight for these initiatives during this legislative session and push to hold lawmakers accountable to the language they themselves passed in Act 164 and Act 62. We want to thank all the advocates around the state fighting the same battle.
Executive Director & Co-Founder, Vermont NORML
About Vermont NORML
The Vermont chapter of NORML, a nonprofit public-interest advocacy group, seeks to implement a fair and equitable cannabis market in the Green Mountain State.
If you would like to contribute or learn more about our efforts, please visit our website at normlvt.org and become a member! We also accept donations on our website.