Vermont's 720 medical marijuana users can finally say good-bye to sketchy black-market drug deals and weak, amateur-grown ditch weed. Nearly nine years after the state's medical marijuana law took effect, patients who use cannabis to relieve symptoms of their chronic ailments will soon have a safe, legal and reliable place to buy their medication. And, they'll know the products they're buying are potent.
Starting in mid-February, Lindsey Wells, administrator of Vermont's Medical Marijuana Program in the Department of Public Safety, began notifying all registry patients by mail that two of the state's three licensed dispensaries — Champlain Valley Dispensary, of Burlington, and Vermont Patients Alliance, of Montpelier — are slated to open on unspecified dates in June. A third licensed registry — Rutland County Organics, in Brandon — is tentatively scheduled to open by July 4.
Wells' letter, obtained by Seven Days last week, outlines dispensary-specific info for patients, including contact information, hours of operation, potential pricing programs and a list of available products. And already, their offerings are impressive.
Rutland County Organics is offering four different strains: Sour Diesel, a sativa recommended for relieving pain, anxiety and nausea; an indica called Cataract Kush, recommended for pain relief, anti-spasticity and ocular issues; Sensi Big Bud, an indica for pain relief, anti-anxiety and muscle spasms; and Bluecheese, a hybrid strain for relieving neuropathy, pain and nausea.
In addition to selling buds for $12.50/gram, the Brandon dispensary will also offer rooted clones at $20-$40 per plant; edibles (medicated cookies, brownies, chocolate bars and goldfish crackers), and hashish, hashish oil and assorted paraphernalia.
Vermont Patients Alliance is offering Montpelier-area patients a selection of organically raised strains, including AK-47, Afghan Skunk, Alcapulco Gold, Blue Dream, Northern Lights, Sour Diesel, Mendecino Madness and Super Lemon Haze. Smoke-free alternatives include tinctures, oils, edibles and vaporizers.
The Champlain Valley Dispensary lists at least 21 exotic-sounding strains it plans to offer, including Juanita La Lagrimosa and Otto No. 1, both of which are designated as "High CBD." CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in some cannabis strains that has medicinal properties but does not leave the user feeling stoned. CBD can actually counter some of the effects of THC, the intoxicant sought out by some medical marijuana patients and all recreational users.
The Champlain Valley Dispensary is also offering a variety of edibles (including low-calorie and gluten-free products), tinctures, sublingual sprays, elixirs, salves "and other assorted products based in the traditions of Western Herbalism, Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda." The dispensary has also set up four different pricing programs, which include a 20 percent discount for veterans and community-supported agriculture shares.
All three dispensaries plan to offer either sliding-scale or percentage discounts for low-income patients.
By law, patients on the medical marijuana registry are still permitted to grow their own, but those who choose to use dispensary must tell the state which one, and be issued a new ID card. According to Wells, the new ID card will indicate which dispensary the patient belongs to and will also have additional security features. Once a patient chooses a dispensary, the patient cannot change to another one for at least 90 days and cannot grow their own marijuana plants.
Under current law, only four dispensaries can be licensed in Vermont. Wells said Monday that the Department of Public Safety plans to re-open the application process for the fourth and final dispensary "in about a month or two."