Vermont Issues First Three Licenses for Retail Cannabis Sales | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Vermont Issues First Three Licenses for Retail Cannabis Sales

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Published September 14, 2022 at 2:08 p.m.
Updated September 27, 2022 at 1:40 p.m.


LUKE EASTMAN
  • Luke Eastman
The Vermont Cannabis Control Board issued licenses on Wednesday to businesses in Burlington, Rutland and Middlebury that will allow them to open weed shops in the coming weeks.

The three businesses are the first in Vermont to get the green light for retail sales.

“Today’s license approvals mark a historic moment for Vermont that is decades in the making,” board chair James Pepper said in a statement.



In unanimous votes, the board approved retail licenses for Mountain Girl Cannabis in Rutland and FLŌRA Cannabis in Middlebury.

Mountain Girl Cannabis is owned by Josh and Ana MacDuff, who told Seven Days earlier this year that they are using their retirement savings to help launch the business. The business will be located at 174 West Street in Rutland.
FLŌRA Cannabis, in Middlebury, is co-owned by Dave Silberman, an attorney who specializes in cannabis businesses. His partner is Michael Sims, who has experience in hemp and cannabis industries, according to the Addison Independent. Their storefront is located at 2 Park Street.

Owners of both businesses told Seven Days on Wednesday that they expect to open their doors on October 1.

Cannabis Control Board members also awarded an integrated license to Ceres Collaborative, an affiliate of the largest medical dispensary in the state. The integrated license allows Ceres, owned by Toronto-based SLANG Worldwide, to participate in every step of the cannabis supply chain, from growing to manufacturing to testing to consumer sales.

Ceres' license allows it to open a retail shop in Burlington out of its dispensary location at 190 College Street, pending approval from a municipal cannabis control committee. Ceres' application to the Burlington board was on the agenda for a meeting scheduled later on Wednesday. 
State law authorized the Vermont Cannabis Control Board to begin issuing retail licenses "on or before" October 1, which has become the date circled in weed lovers' calendars as the launch of the adult-use market.

Existing medical dispensaries and applicants from backgrounds disadvantaged by cannabis prohibition were given priority for board review. Mountain Girl Cannabis was one of two "social equity" retail applicants submitted so far, Pepper said during Wednesday's meeting; the other social equity application is not yet complete, he said.

The board, which has struggled at times to process a flood of cannabis business applications, noted that Wednesday's round of retail approvals came two and a half weeks ahead of schedule.

"The fact that we were able to stand this program up with a skeleton crew, a part-time legislature ... is nothing short of miraculous," Pepper said just before the board's vote.

Retailers can begin selling cannabis as soon as they receive their license, provided they've paid their fees, met certain contingencies — such as state-mandated employee training on the health effects of cannabis — and obtained local government approval, where required.
"That date will vary from business to business," the Cannabis Control Board said in a statement.

In Burlington, the city council barred retail sales until October 1.

Ceres Collaborative chief operating officer Russ Todia said his company will open its doors as close to that date as possible.