Advocates hope to help shape Vermont’s retail pot market

Local News

While Vermont lawmakers are busy drafting rules for a regulated system to buy, sell, and grow marijuana, dozens of advocates gathered Wednesday at the State House for Cannabis at the Capitol Day.

“As much as it’s about cannabis, it’s about grassroots democracy and people being empowered to come and lobby for themselves,” said Eli Harrington of Heady Vermont.

This is the second year Heady Vermont has hosted the event. Last year, the group was out front in the effort to pass Act 86, which allows adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. The law, which went into effect in July, lets residents grow two mature plants or four immature plants.

But, participants say that was only the first step toward retail sales.

“Everyone is kind of stuck right now,” said George Black. “For someone like myself, where would I get it?”

Keith Morris, a farmer at Willow Crossing Farm in Johnson, says growers are concerned that dispensaries, which rely on indoor facilities, will be at the forefront of cultivation in Vermont.

“We want to see cannabis grown in organic Vermont soil, in the sun outdoors, as opposed to chemically intensive indoor operations,” he said. “It’s kind of antithetical to the spirit of Vermont and Vermont’s respect for our farmers and destroys the potential for an Agri-tourism industry.”

Supporters also touted the economic potential, showcasing a state mapped dotted with Vermont’s craft breweries and ski resorts. They want to see cannabis in the tourism mix.

“We want people to stop thinking about cannabis like heroin,” Harrington said. “We want people to think about cannabis like maple syrup and alcohol in this state.”

Other advocates expressed concern about the medical aspect of marijuana. They want to see lower prices and third-party testing.

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