Betting Big on Weed feature in Seven Days VT
Betting Big on Weed: Hopeful Vermont Cannabis Players See Green in the Coming Retail Market
By DEREK BROUWER and SASHA GOLDSTEIN
“The Vermont way?
Three years ago, hemp looked like a sure thing. Hundreds of Vermonters applied to grow the cannabis plant for an extract known as CBD — cannabidiol — and big profits were in the offing.
Instead, it was mostly hype. The market crashed. Hemp plants rotted in the field. Growers were left holding the bag on handshake deals worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Some survived, though, and a number of those hope that they can find success in Vermont’s fledgling weed industry.
“Our numbers, our margins, our products — it took the CBD experience to figure out exactly what we can do well with THC,” said Jane Lanza, who, with her husband, Ben, runs Family Tree Hemp. One lesson learned: Don’t overextend yourself.
On their four-acre Sheldon farm, the couple grows hemp that they sell as buds, CBD oil, or in edibles and skin care products, which are available online or in nearly 20 locations in Vermont and other New England states.
As they move into THC, Lanza said, the couple plans to grow steadily according to a five-year plan that should help them weather turbulence during the market’s startup phase. Their CBD business landed them relationships with retail outlets that Lanza expects will provide a leg up in securing shelf space for their THC products.
Family Tree is not aiming to “take over the world and be, you know, a Budweiser,” Lanza said. “But if we could be a little Vermont craft brewery making our town proud, we’d be happy.”
Whether Family Tree or other small growers succeed may turn on more than just their individual business acumen. Their fate is also tied to whether Vermont can distinguish itself as a purveyor of artisanal cannabis.”