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It has been a long time coming, but Vermont is poised to finally enjoy cannabis legalization, and retailers are getting ready to be able to join the thriving new industry.
The Cannabis Control Board is gearing up to start giving out licenses beginning October 1, a date that is quickly coming into view. With this in mind, businesses have been getting ready and preparing for months now for the big day.
Scott Sparks of Vermont Bud Barn, a retailer who is aiming to open in West Brattleboro, Vermont, is preparing and hopeful. He would like to see his business open as soon as legal cannabis can move ahead in the state, and he plans to become one of the first retailers in the industry.
“Yeah, things are definitely moving forward,” he says of his work so far to get ready and open his doors. “I was planning on running it for two weeks. In three days, I had over 150 applications.”
Sparks is no stranger to the world of cannabis. He has been in the CBD market for years, and now, if all goes well, he is preparing to also enter the legal cannabis market. His license for retail is being reviewed by the Cannabis Control Board in Vermont, and he has even begun the process of interviewing hopeful candidates to work at the dispensary.
While he has had no trouble locking in interviews and getting interested staff on the hook, he has had trouble with banking, not surprisingly. For the time being, he has opted to work with a virtual bank if he is able to open, as local banks have put a hold on working with cannabis clients. VSECU, the bank he was hoping to work with, said they will not be taking on future cannabis businesses.
“Even though I got in all the paperwork on time and I have a longstanding relationship, I was not allowed to get an account,” Sparks says about his banking challenges.
In the meantime, he is focusing on the construction of his business and installing a safe and security system, as well as meetings with farmers and growers.
“A lot of the—I will call them top-tier growers—have actually approached us because they want to be a part of my continued branding down here, and they want to have a presence in southern Vermont,” he says about the folks he is trying to work with.
And others in the area, even outside of the cannabis industry, are equally excited about the opportunities they hope it will bring.
“I’m excited for this part of West Brattleboro,” says Larisa Volkaeichyute, owner of an art gallery in the same building that Vermont Bud Barn is hoping to open in. “I feel like that will give the opportunity to showcase my work and showcase the work of other artists.”
As soon as cannabis licenses are approved by the Cannabis Control Board, retailers can begin selling cannabis. So, interested retailers are gearing up and getting ready to sell as soon as they are able. Officials so far say they are on target to meet the October 1 deadline.
“The day I get to turn the key on that door will be one of the best days of my life,” Sparks says about his hopes for the future. “Just very exciting to finally get to this point after all these years.”
In Sparks’ case, he is planning on having product available and for sale within four days of getting his license. As long as the process continues to go smoothly, Vermont can expect many recreational businesses to follow suit, and the local industry to explode.
Addison Herron-Wheeler is co-publisher and owner of OUT FRONT Magazine, and web editor of New Noise Magazine. She covers cannabis and heavy metal, and is author of Wicked Woman: Women in Metal from the 1960s to Now and Respirator, a collection of short stories.