Sheldon Springs, VT: Why Opt-In to Retail Cannabis?


Hi. It’s me, Jane. Here to talk respectfully about cannabis.

When can an adult 21+ in VT legally purchase cannabis flowers in a retail location?

Act 164, sets the framework for taxed and regulated cannabis sales in Vermont. It’s estimated, though currently unknown, that retail stores permitted through Act 164 can sell cannabis flowers around October 2022. A bit sooner- on May 1, 2022, state-licensed medical dispensaries In VT can start to sell cannabis flowers to individuals 21+ with an integrated license via Act 164.

Act 164 requires an “opt-in” vote in order for a town to allow cannabis dispensaries. Retail opt-in means a town or city must vote, by ballot, to allow cannabis retailers to operate in the new adult-use cannabis marketplace. No Vermont town can have a retail location without first opting into the marketplace.

Allowing for retail on the ballot doesn’t mean it will be voted in yet.  If it is voted in, this doesn’t mean dispensaries will open in Sheldon, or open immediately. It does allow a business to set up within city limits after going through the proper permitting processes. The state will license people carefully when Sheldon opts-in.

Sheldon Springs, VT: Why Opt-In to Retail Cannabis?

The opportunity to find out what people think in our community is essential. We want discover what our town members want as legalization unfolds around us state and nation wide. We want to offer as much education as we can on the benefits of adult-use legalization.

Our town can use local application fees to offset any expenditures that may incur. Other towns that participate in VT’s Land Option Tax (LOT) get 1% of all their municipalities’ businesses. Sheldon can vote to do whatever with the additional fees.

Voting on Act 164 Opt-In at Sheldon Town Meeting on 3/1/22 gives the town (and farmers like us) more time to figure out what zoning, signage, and nuisance ordinances are needed to appropriately regulate cannabis businesses at the local level. This way people can be involved thoughtfully from the community versus rushing through at the end to keep up with neighboring towns.

More researched reasons for retail opt-in

  • Decreased Crime
  • Increased Revenue
  • Job Creation
  • Tourism Generation
  • opportunity for BIPOC reparations and social equity

If we don’t opt to put this on the ballot now, VT governance allows us to collect citizen signatures, which is unsafe in a pandemic- and requires a separate town clerk effort to hold another election (after we get signatures). Streamlining voting at Town Meeting lessens this effort.

Opt-in is a barrier-to-entry that disproportionately impacts small businesses. Large companies often have more resources to navigate over-regulation with greater success. It is an obstacle for us to cultivate here and set up retail operations elsewhere, but not insurmountable.

A retail license in Sheldon also enables us to provide nursery services, as we have for CBD, and sell seedlings to other local farmers (certified organic).

We (along with any other Vermonter who qualifies) can get a cultivation and other adult-use permits without town approval. We will have to move our retail to another town (who will earn the license fees and taxes) or sell to a distributor from another town and make half as much profit. As a small business in hemp, it can be difficult to fundraise the capital needed to weather flawed cannabis policy.

VT is focused on creating a diverse market place of craft growers. We want Sheldon to be on this map by creating an experience for consumers to purchase directly from their farmer and experience our unique landrace cultivars,

We want to stay in Sheldon and keep our taxes and family here. Sheldon is historically a land of booming business, celebrating VT agriculture and resources. Sheldon is a community of small farmers like ourselves, many of whom expressed interest in hemp when that launched in 2018. Entering the adult-use market could be a good opportunity for local people who proceed thoughtfully with compliance.

For more information, to get your town to opt in, and for credit due compiling this blog, please visit Heady Vermont and Vermont Growers Association.

Proposed Language for 2022 Town Meeting Day Ballot as used in other towns:
“Shall the [Town of ______] permit the operation of licensed cannabis retailers and Integrated Licensees, subject to such municipal ordinance and regulation as the [Selectboard] may lawfully adopt and implement?”

 

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