In 2021, the legislature took additional steps to ensure that Vermont’s cannabis industry will be fair and equitable. The House and Senate passed S. 25, a bill that strengthens social equity provisions, in part by requiring regulators to reduce or eliminate licensing fees for applicants who have been negatively impacted by the enforcement of cannabis laws. The bill also creates a Cannabis Business Development Fund that will assist social equity applicants.
Gov. Scott signed S. 25 into law on June 7. The advertising provisions and the language appropriating tax revenues toward prevention will take effect on March 1, 2022. All other provisions go into effect immediately. Gov. Scott’s press release and statement are available here.
Looking for the tax and regulate bill? Details on S. 54, the bill to tax and regulate cannabis in Vermont, here.
This act makes a number of changes to Act No. 164 of 2020 and establishes new provisions within the medical and adult-use cannabis regulatory system. It also updates the timeline for the implementation of tax and regulate.
Here is a summary of the provisions that are included in the final version of S. 25:
Dedicated Funding for Social Equity Applicants
- S. 25 appropriates $500,000 from the General Fund to establish a Cannabis Business Development Fund.
- The Fund will provide “financial assistance, loans, grants, and outreach to social equity applicants” who are seeking to operate state-licensed cannabis facilities.
- Regulators will be developing explicit criteria for these applicants at a later date.
Changes to Restrictions in Advertising
- The bill does away with an outright ban on advertising for cannabis businesses.
- Businesses can’t depict a person under 21 using cannabis or advertise in mediums where 15% of the audience is “reasonably expected” to be younger than 21.
- Business cannot make deceptive or false statements or promote overconsumption.
Prior to a cannabis retailer or the retail portion of an integrated licensee operating within a municipality, the municipality shall permit the operation of such cannabis establishments by majority vote.
- Earmarks a portion of tax revenues toward substance prevention programs.
- Requires retailers to obtain a portion of their cannabis flower inventory (25 percent) exclusively from licensed small cultivators.
- Adds members to the Cannabis Control Board’s (CCB) Advisory Committee.
- Requires the CCB to report to legislative committees no later than October 1, 2021, regarding recommended fees for activities regulated by the CCB, including eliminated or reduced fees for social equity applicants.
- Requires the CCB to report to the General Assembly no later than November 1, 2021, on whether licensees should be permitted to produce solid concentrate products with greater than 60 percent THC for purposes of incorporation into other cannabis products that otherwise comply with restrictions, and whether the CCB should permit hemp or CBD to be converted to Delta-9 THC and, if so, how it should be regulated.
Updated Tax and Regulate Implementation Timeline
- On or after April 1, 2022, dispensaries shall be permitted to cultivate cannabis and manufacture cannabis products for the purpose of transferring or selling such products to an integrated licensee
- On or before April 1, 2022, the Board shall begin accepting applications for integrated licenses.
- On or before April 1, 2022, the Board shall begin accepting applications for small cultivator licenses and testing laboratories. The initial application period shall remain open for 30 days.
- On or before May 1, 2022, the Board shall begin issuing integrated licenses to qualified applicants.
- On or before May 1, 2022, the Board shall begin issuing small cultivator and testing laboratories licenses to qualified applicants.
- On or before May 1, 2022, the Board shall begin accepting applications for all cultivator licenses.
- On or before June 1, 2022, the Board shall begin issuing all cultivator licenses to qualified applicants.
- On or before July 1, 2022, the Board shall begin accepting applications for product manufacturer licenses and wholesaler licenses.
- On or before August 1, 2022, the Board shall begin issuing product manufacturer and wholesaler licenses to qualified applicants.
- Between August 1, 2022 and October 1, 2022, 25 percent of cannabis flower sold by an integrated licensee shall be obtained from a licensed small cultivator, if available.
- On or before September 1, 2022, the Board shall begin accepting applications for retailer licenses.
- On or before October 1, 2022, the Board shall begin issuing retailer licenses to qualified applicants and sales of cannabis and cannabis products by licensed retailers to the public shall be allowed immediately.
Date enacted: S. 62 took effect on June 7, 2021.
See full text of S. 25, or Act 62, as enacted.