Nearly three months has passed since Vermont’s first cannabis dispensaries were given the ok to open, and state officials say despite a slow start, the market is already having a positive economic impact.
When the state legislature enacted a bill in 2020 allowing the state to regulate a retail cannabis market, a driving force behind the decision was adding to state funds.
Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board said they have done just that in the opening months.
“We thought for the kind of nine months of fiscal year 2023 when adult recreational stores were going to be open, that the excise tax revenue would be between 2.1 and 2.4 million within those nine months,” said James Pepper, the chair of Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board. “These numbers are squarely in those projections.”
On top of the state’s 6% sales tax, cannabis businesses collect an additional 14% excise tax. It has netted $330,000 in state revenue through November, thanks to the maturing market.
Lauren Andrews – a staple in central Vermont’s CBD market – opened Capital Cannabis Company in Montpelier in early November. She said the sales over the holiday season have been through the roof.
“We broke two sales records last week,” she said. “With one day projected of about 500 people that visited our store…our sales between November and December have increased about 20%.”
Customers outside of Andrews’ shop, like Matthew Placey, said the growing market has provided comfort.
“I’m so scared of all the fentanyl and the other additives that people put into stuff,” Placey said.
Pepper said going forward he doesn’t expect sales to sway from the board’s initial projections but said tourism and the legislative decisions could change things.
“A very small number of our towns actually have the ability to host a cannabis establishment, so if there were things like delivery that would increase access to people that might be in these legal cannabis deserts,” he said.
Pepper added that while most of the tax revenue is going to the state’s general fund, 30% of the excise tax and all the sales tax is going to Vermont Department of Health for abuse prevention education.