CCB

Licensing Update: 14 Licensing Applications Approved, 6 of Them Retail, Outdoor/Mixed Cultivation Window to Close in April

Aerial photo of a Vermont Green Mountains pine forest under a beautiful sunrise sky
Ella Guinan 27 Feb 2023

MONTPELIER — In today’s Vermont Cannabis Control Board meeting, 14 adult-use cannabis licenses were approved, including six retailers. Today was the second meeting of the Board’s new monthly meeting schedule. Board commissioner Kyle Harris was in attendance today after taking paternity leave.

The following establishments became officially licensed today:

– GoodFire, Retailer, Waterbury
– The Herb Closet, Retailer, Burlington
– Giving Tree Cannabis, Retailer, West Pawlet
– Silver Therapeutics of Bennington, Retailer, Bennington
– MothaPlant, Retailer, St. Albans
– The Gas Station, Retailer, Rutland
– Buttom Farm Company, Indoor Cultivator Tier 3
– Hero Cannabis, Outdoor Cultivator Tier 1
– EDWARD-HASH-HANDS, Mixed Cultivator Tier 1
– High Priestess, Indoor Cultivator Tier 1
– Burrington Hill Co., Mixed Cultivator Tier 2
– The Flying Cactus, Indoor Cultivator Tier 2
– TROMBLY HOUSE OF CANNABIS, Mixed Cultivator Tier 3
– DEMETERS DG, Manufacturer Tier 2

Opening Remarks

Board approval vs. full licensure

Chair of the Board James Pepper reminded licensees that approval from the Board does not allow businesses to operate as if they are licensed. There are several steps following Board approval that are not required prior to approval. Applicants will receive an email containing the remaining contingencies needed for full licensure upon Board approval.

These contingencies include payment of fees, permits from local cannabis commissions and proof of bank account and insurance. Until these requirements are fulfilled, an establishment is not licensed and should not operate.

We strive to take an education-first approach but intentional ignorance of [Board] rules is no excuse for not abiding by them. – James Pepper

Product Registration

Pepper also reminded licensees that a product is officially registered only after the Board notifies licensees, not after the product is submitted for review.

The interim product registration system posed issues for licensees and Board staff, alike subsequently creating a significant backlog. In an effort to mitigate these challenges, the Board is “systematically tackling” the backlog by updating internal processes to reduce turnaround time of product approval.

Product registration is now integrated in the licensing portal and as of last Friday, all data from the interim system has been shifted to the updated one. Additionally, the Board has allocated more staff to address product registration review.

By the end of this week, the Board will have its first product registration report available on its website which will consist of a catalog of all registered products. This will eventually become a public portal.

New Testing Protocol

Starting in the fall, the Board will require pesticide and pathogen testing of each individual strain instead of each harvest lot.

 

Seasonal Closure of Outdoor & Mixed Use Cultivator License Application Window

As defined by statute, the Board has the authority to open and close application windows at the discretion of its members. Per staff recommendation, the Board is voted to close the application window for Outdoor and Mixed Use Cultivator Licenses. The seasonal closure begins April 28, 2023 and will last until December 1, 2023.

This decision only applies to new, not existing, applicants. Existing licensees looking to apply for renewal will not be affected by this.

The thought behind this is that the Board wants to give folks certainty that they are licensed and able to legally grow. “If somebody is looking to submit an application in July, they probably wouldn’t get on the docket until September,” Kyle Harris noted. This timeline is potentially detrimental to the success of the cultivator, something Board members said they wished to avoid.

 

Legislative Updates

Board Executive Director Brynn Hare brought viewers attention to three bills currently under consideration in the Vermont Legislature that have the potential to impact the Board.

H.270 (S.71) Miscellaneous Amendments to Adult-Use Cannabis Bill

H.270 could impact the Board in numerous ways. If passed, this bill would:

  • amend the statute on advertising by not allowing Board staff to make judgments about a licensee’s subjective intent when reviewing advertisements;
  • allow licensees to sell and transfer products to other licensees;
  • establish a Propagation License thus allowing licensees to grow vegetative starts;
  • adjustment the medical program; and
  • remove the dual jurisdiction of the Board and the Dept. of Liquor and Lottery over cannabis establishments that sell paraphernalia used to consume cannabis.

S.72

If passed, this bill would remove the 60% THC cap on solid concentrate products.

H.145 Budget Adjustment Bill

If passed, this bill would authorize the Board to create a state reference lab for the cannabis industry as well as allocate funds for lab costs (including employee salaries and equipment). This would allow the Compliance Team to:

  • conduct investigations in a timelier manner;
  • perform auditing of licensed labs; and
  • ensure the quality of product in the cannabis market.

Licensing Data

Average number of days from application submission to approval.
Cultivation applications: average days from submission to approval.
Employee ID cards demographics.
New cannabis establishment license application submissions by license type.
Licensed canopy vs. estimated utilized canopy.
Total issued licenses.
Licenses approved on 2/27/23.

 

Public Comment

During the public comment portion of today’s meeting, several people expressed to the Board that they would like to see the Vermont cannabis market exist without Tier 5 cultivation licenses. Those who commented on this were mostly concerned with a Tier 5 cultivator’s ability to effectively corner the market, asking the Board to “please consider the longevity of our market.”

Several other commenters voiced their confusion on the Board’s decision to hire an out-of-state consulting firm, while others pressed Board members on tax cuts for retailers who sell medical cannabis.

 

Other meeting notes:

  • The Board holds monthly networking events and Q&A sessions. Check them out HERE.
  • The Board is HIRING.
  • Chair James Pepper briefly mentioned the Board’s interest in greatly reducing licensing fees for medical-only establishments.

 

Thanks for reading!

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