cannacurious

Canna’Curious: How Vermont Can Design A Kick Ass Cannabis Industry (Part 1)

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Rob Williams 11 Aug 2018

August 2018.

News flash!

Cannabis personal grow and use has been legal for one month now here in Vermont.

The sky over our Green Mountains has not fallen.

The sun still rises over Vermont each morning in our east, and sets over Vermont each evening in our west.

More importantly? Thousands of Vermonters are breathing easier, no longer feeling like criminals in their own homes for growing and consuming an ancient 5,000 year-old plant, the power of which we are barely beginning to understand.

And now – the BIG question on every Vermonter’s mind: How can Vermonters move forward to best design a legal, taxed, and regulated cannabis and hemp industry that can benefit us all?

Our publicly elected state officials have one answer. Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s Marijuana Advisory Commission is hard at work focusing on cannabis consumption and highway safety, protecting Vermont kids and pets from cannabis, workplace regulations around cannabis use, and the like – all necessary and laudable concerns. 

We are strongly opposed to an economic structure that benefits big commercial interests, one that concentrates ownership in the hands of the few and restricts opportunities for small entrepreneurs. Our goal is to envision an economy that puts the interests of entrepreneurs, small businesses, and farmers at the center of this new industry.

Here at Heady Vermont, meanwhile, we’re leaning into the OPPORTUNITIES a legalized, taxed, and regulated cannabis and hemp economy might offer our Vermont farmers, businesses, Vermont’repreneurs, job seekers, and tourists. NOTE: Make sure to register for HEMP FEST 2018 at Burke Mountain. Gonna be a barn burner!  

So – how do we wrap our heads and hearts around a legal cannabis and hemp industry?

One good starting place is Vermont Cannabis Collaborative’s (VTCC) 2015 What Cannabis Can Do For Vermont white paper (Full Disclosure – I was a VTCC participant, and helped craft the vision paper referenced here.).

Begin with VTCC’s vision.

Here’s what we imagined in 2015 for a taxed and regulated Vermont cannabis and hemp industry.

“We want the highest standards for quality and testing of anywhere in the country. We want Vermonters from all walks of life and income levels to have a path to participate in this new economy. We think cooperatives could allow small craft growers to enter the market, and have the kind of impact on our economy that our craft brewers have created. We believe that entrepreneurs, who may not have a lot of venture capital but have great ideas nonetheless, should have the opportunity to success where others like them in Colorado and Washington have been unable to enter the market. We see a thriving cannabis genetics industry emerging. And we see ways to create jobs – good, long-term jobs that won’t go away after an initial boom.”

And here’s what we stated we did NOT want:

“We also share a vision of what we don’t want to see in this new industry. We are strongly opposed to an economic structure that benefits big commercial interests, one that concentrates ownership in the hands of the few and restricts opportunities for small entrepreneurs. Our goal is to envision an economy that puts the interests of entrepreneurs, small businesses, and farmers at the center of this new industry.

Our broad goal? 

Vermont as an “East Coast Center for Cannabis Excellence.”

“We see a market open to any Vermonter who wants to participate, where home growers, craft growers, and large grow operations are integrated to meet the existing demand. We see an opportunity to become a national leader in cannabis genetics and medical research.”

Aspirational, and sounds great, but how do we get there from here? 

Three ways.

First, POLICY: Vermont must establish a tiered structure of cannabis and hemp cultivation that balances supply and demand, with a goal of keeping prices low enough to diminish the underground market.

Second, TESTING: Vermont must get serious about establishing and enforcing uniform quality and testing standards.

Third, RESEARCH: Vermont must create genetics research opportunities to unlock new medical treatments and specialized cannabis strains, positioning itself as a continental leader in cannabis and hemp research.

We see a market open to any Vermonter who wants to participate, where home growers, craft growers, and large grow operations are integrated to meet the existing demand. We see an opportunity to become a national leader in cannabis genetics and medical research.

How do we do all of this? Stay tuned. Having sketched out the broad outlines of a kick-ass cannabis and hemp industry for Vermont, I’ll grow more specifics of this vision in this column during the weeks ahead.

And we at Heady Vermont welcome your best ideas  – feel free to email me at rob@headyvermont.com with your thoughts!

Let’s elevate the state – of a legal cannabis and hemp industry here in Vermont!

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