- Luke Eastman
The news comes as a blow to cultivators who are anxiously awaiting state approval so they can raise crops in time to have product available when the market fully opens in October. Some have applied to grow indoors, others outdoors and some a mix of both.
According to data from the board, 83 small growers have submitted applications, but only two are currently under review. Those two are among 25 "social equity applicants" who represent groups disadvantaged by the country's war on drugs and are now designated for priority licensing review — and breaks on fees — by Vermont.
"We've gotten a lot of messages saying, 'Hey, my plants need to be in the ground ASAP,' and we completely understand," Kyle Harris, one of the three board members, said at a meeting on Monday. "That is not lost on us." Harris said some frustrated applicants have called into the office and directed vulgar language at staff, which he called unacceptable.
The delays weren't the only bad news the board delivered on Monday. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has rejected the state's request to conduct background checks for all applicants, meaning the board will have to bring on a third-party company to do them. The checks, required of applicants and all of those with a controlling interest in a cannabis business, cost $475 each.
Ivan Pudan, co-owner of Snowbird Botanicals in Barnet, asked the board about the cost during the public comment period of its meeting.
"I'm a social equity applicant with my wife, and $1,000 for background checks kind of defeats the purpose of applying for a social-equity type of assistance, doesn't it?" he inquired.
But with no applicants and the delays in licensing, it's unclear when the first legal weed sales will take place in Vermont.