Licensing Update: Nine New Licenses Issued, Board Reviews Draft Report on Solid Concentrates
MONTPELIER — Today was the first Vermont Cannabis Control Board (CCB) meeting without former General Counsel David Scherr. As announced last week, Scherr has accepted the position of State Director for Representative-Elect Becca Balint in Washington, D.C.
Despite Scherr’s absence, and consequently his technical prowess, the Board held a comprehensive meeting and issued nine new licenses:
- Rainbows End Cannabis – Indoor Cultivator, Tier 2
- Kingdom Boyz – Indoor Cultivator, Tier 1
- VherBio, LLC – Retailer (Randolph)
- Dalen, Ltd. – Retailer (Waitsfield)
- D.B.A. Blue Sage
- Superkind Farms, LLC – Outdoor Cultivator, Tier 1
- Stone Leaf Cannabis, LLC – Retailer (Windsor)
- Vermont Craft Edibles – Manufacturer, Tier 2
- VTegridy Farms – Indoor Cultivator, Tier 1
- Fat Cat Farm, LLC – Mixed Cultivator, Tier 1
Chair of the Board James Pepper began today’s meeting by acknowledging the loss of Will Raap, a ‘towering figure‘ in Vermont cooperative agriculture and a “giant in Vermont’s agricultural economy for the past four decades.”
According to Pepper, Raap was (and is) the leading influence on how Pepper approaches cannabis regulation. Raap advised that a retail cannabis market in Vermont should include the following: embrace small craft cultivation, encourage cooperatives, force large operators to use sustainable growing practices and pay livable wages, create rigorous testing standards, and to be a leader in genetics and research.
The Board’s new product registration is set to go live this week. “We’re finally leaving the stone age of Microsoft forms and incorporating product registration into [the Board’s] licensing portal,” Pepper remarked.
The new process is more streamlined and user-friendly and can be found under a tab within licensees’ CCB accounts. Licensees who have already submitted product registration through Microsoft forms do not need to resubmit information.
The Board is set to hold another Product Registration Q+A on December 27 at 6pm.
New Board Schedule in 2023
Starting in January, the Board will meet once a month. This new schedule will be reviewed and approved at next week’s meeting.
In between monthly meetings, the Board is set to begin subject matter-specific networking events. Proposed subjects include insurance requirements, tax compliance, cultivation best practices, and licensing renewal. Licensees are encouraged to suggest topics they feel should be covered.
Education First Approach
The aforementioned networking events come as part of the Board’s approach to educating those involved in this brand new market. Pepper voiced that the Board recognizes the gaps and ambiguities that exist in Board Rules and that the Board is actively working on closing those gaps through guidance documents and other forms of education.
“Everyone with a cannabis license should have an intimate familiarity with [Board] rules, guidance, and the FAQ section of [the Board’s] website,” –Chair James Pepper
Pepper went on to acknowledge that the infancy of the Vermont retail market required some level of “hand-holding” at the start. However, considering the guidance and education the Board has worked to provide since then are beginning to negate many of the ‘good faith’ mistakes that some licensees continue to make.
“Everyone with a cannabis license should have an intimate familiarity with [Board] rules, guidance, and the FAQ section of [the Board’s] website,” Pepper remarked. Questions such as, “Can I buy cannabis from an unlicensed cultivator?” and actions such as “fudging” the number of employees to avoid fire safety regulations will no longer be tolerated by the Board.
Board Draft Report on Solid THC Concentrates
The Board reviewed their draft report on solid THC concentrates during today’s meeting. A whopping 82 pages, the Board complied both research-based and anecdotal evidence to support lifting the 60% cap on solid concentrates.
This draft can be found on the Board’s website. As a reminder this is a draft, not a final copy. The Board will present this report to the Legislature during the upcoming session.
Some important highlights from the report:
- Vermont is one of only two states (Connecticut) that impose a percentage limit (cap) on solid concentrates.
- Historical fact shows that prohibition never yields positive results and education is the most reliable method to achieving consumer safety.
- Products that contain solid concentrates are widely available and easily attainable in the illicit market, meaning that having a cap on concentrates will not stop people from consuming them.
- The Board argues that with the cap in place, consumers will turn to the illicit market or simply travel to states like Massachusetts to procure them.
- The Board anticipates that concentrates will occupy a small but significant portion of the market.
- When solid concentrates are made, their potency limit exceeds 60% naturally, meaning in order to meet the potency limit fillers must be used to decrease potency.
- The Board warns against this citing that adulterating cannabis product to reduce potency disrupts its natural composition and could lead to unintended negative health consequences.
- The Board recommends that cannabis regulations not reflect that of tobacco as they are two very different products.
The Board’s 4-Part Plan to Promote Public Safety Regarding Concentrates
- Remove the potency cap for solid concentrates.
- Authorize consumer education campaigns and youth prevention programs.
- Use a portion of the revenue at the Dept. of Health for substance misuse prevention programs to fund these education programs.
- Make public health information, including safe dosage information, readily available.
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