CCB

Licensing Update: Control Board Issues Seven New Licenses, Including Four Retailers

An outdoor cannabis top bud nearing harvest.
Ella Guinan 12 Oct 2022

MONTPELIER – Barely two weeks into retail cannabis sales in Vermont, adult-use licensing applications continue to roll in on a steady basis. Seven new licenses were approved at today’s Vermont Cannabis Control Board meeting.

The licenses approved by regulators today included four retailers, two indoor cultivators and one manufacturer.

  • ForbinsFinest, LLC – Indoor Cultivator Tier 3
  • Cognizant Sparks, LLC DBA Homegrown Health – Indoor Cultivator Tier 1
  • GROW. by MJ Cultivators, LLC – Manufacturer Tier 2
  • Gram Central, LLC – Retailer
  • GB, LLC DBA 9th State Cannabis – Retailer
  • Lamoille County Cannabis, LLC – Retailer
  • The Green Man, LLC – Retailer

See licenses approved in last week’s Oct. 5 meeting.

Licensing Protocol & Role of Board

At the start of today’s meeting, Chair of the Board James Pepper addressed seemingly wide-spread confusion regarding who to contact with questions about application status.

Members and staff of the Vermont Cannabis Control Board at their regular meeting on Wednesday, October 12, 2022.

Pepper offered a reminder to folks that Board members (James Pepper, Julie Hulburd and Kyle Harris) are not the proper recipients of these inquiries. Questions about the status of an application should be sent to [email protected]. Average response time is 24 hours or less.

Individual Board members are not involved in the prioritization or review of individual applications. The role of Board members is to establish processes that Board staff then executes. By design, Board members maintain distance from the review process “so as not to creative even a perception of impropriety,” Pepper stated. Board members comprise the regulatory body of the Cannabis Control Board (i.e., creating rules and approving applicants in the final stage) whereas Board staff are responsible for the review of applications.

Pepper noted, “There’s a level of access to [the Board] that is, I would say, unusual when you look at other cannabis commissions. The consequence of this approach, however, is that [the Board doesn’t] get involved in review of applications.”

Since its start in April of this year, 147 public meetings have been held by the Board, as well as banking and municipal roundtables, town hall events, and networking events. Pepper reminded folks that members have taken time to speak on panels, radio shows, television segments, and even podcasts in an effort to create a market that would be inviting and accessible to the legacy market.

Board staff  is comprised of thoroughly vetted individuals who stringently follow Board rules and guidelines when reviewing applications and are thus required to notify applicants when they have an incomplete status.

“The vast majority of pending applications are in incomplete status. If you’re in incomplete status, the ball is in your court,” Pepper said during today’s meeting. “Staff has sent you all info you need to proceed and are moving on to other applications until you resubmit,” he concluded.

Site Visits

A site visit is the last step before an application can be recommended for approval. Immediately upon application approval, licensees are allowed to possess cannabis on-site meaning all security facets must be operational before then.

The Board would like to remind folks that security systems must be ready to operate in time for scheduled site inspection. “The purpose of a site visit is to verify that everything you’ve put in your application matches up with the conditions on the ground, not some theoretical set of conditions in the future,” Pepper cautioned.

Fire Safety

The Board strongly encourages applicants to contact Fire Safety as soon as possible. This is especially important in towns with municipal inspection requirements as the municipal inspections call for additional coordination with local safety inspectors. Cannabis applicants do not receive priority from Fire Safety and it is in the best interest of an applicant’s business to act with haste for this requirement.

Social Media & Advertising

If your cannabis business is on social media, be sure that all posts meet the advertising  guidelines specified in Board Rule 2. Pepper acknowledged how the community of people in the Vermont cannabis industry have done “a good job of policing one another” in terms of advertising.

The main concern that the Board has in terms of advertising is ensuring that advertisements maintain ‘child-friendly standards.’ “The Legislature wrote in statute some of the strictest advertising restrictions in the country and they have no patience for anything that appears to be targeting youth or associating youth with cannabis,” Pepper noted.

In an effort to enforce child-friendly standards, the Board has made advertising violations some of the most serious offenses in the industry.

Product Registration & Payment Portal

To register products and make applicable payments please visit the Applications and Forms section of the Board’s website. An email with instructions on how and when to submit these forms will be sent out by the end of today.

Staff Recommendations

Medical Cannabis

Licenses Approved

Social Equity Applicants

License Applications (as of 10/12/22)

 

Other meeting item(s):

  • The rumor you have heard is not true, the Board will not be closing the application window for retail licenses. If any application window were to close, the Board would give the public adequate warning and the window would remain open for 30 days after the announcement.
  • If you are experiencing issues with CCB licensing portal login credentials, please email Board staff at [email protected].

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