Regulated sales of recreational marijuana began in
Vermont lawmakers passed legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis sales in 2020. Sales of recreational marijuana began on Saturday, October 1 at three stores, with more stores expected to open in the state soon.
Bryan Menard arrived at 6:30 in the morning for the 10 a.m. opening of the Ceres Collective store in Burlington, making him the first customer in a line of more than 100 people.
“Things are changing and things are good. It’s about time,”
Pot Possession Legalized in Vermont Four Years Ago
Vermont legalized medical marijuana in 2004, followed by the decriminalization of possession of up to one ounce of cannabis in 2013. In 2018, the state legalized the possession of marijuana for adults and small-scale home cannabis cultivation, but lawmakers declined to legalize and regulate commercial cannabis activity, leaving most cannabis consumers with limited legal opportunities to obtain weed.
Two years later, Vermont legislators passed Senate Bill 54, a measure authorizing cannabis retail sales. Republican Gov. Phil Scott announced he would let a bill become law without his signature, noting he had reservations about the measure that still needed to be resolved.
“This has been a top priority for the majority in the Legislature for four years, but their work is not complete. They must ensure equity in this new policy and prevent their priority from becoming a public health problem for current and future generations,”
Last week, the Vermont Cannabis Control Board clarified some of the rules for recreational marijuana purchases, including a requirement that all buyers be adults aged 21 or older. Nellie Marvel, the board’s outreach and education manager, said that customers’ identification will be checked as they enter retailers and again at point of purchase. She also noted that there are limits on the amount of cannabis products that can be purchased at one time.
“There is a purchase limit per transaction and one ounce of cannabis flower per transaction,” said Marvel. “This translates to about eight grams of concentrate or about 800 milligrams of cannabis product in edibles.”
Ceres Collective has been serving medical marijuana patients for about 10 years. But Saturday was the first day the shop was permitted to make recreational cannabis sales to customers.
“This has just been a culmination for this whole state,” said Russ Todia, chief operating officer for Ceres Collaborative. “To be ready and open for serving guests is just thrilling.”
“It’s real monumental for the state and for us,”
Official Responds to Criticism
James Pepper, chair of the state Cannabis Control Board, characterized the launch of retail cannabis sales in Vermont as a soft opening, saying that more retailers will come on line as they complete the licensing process and the supply of cannabis in the state increases. He also responded to criticism about the timing of issuing licenses, noting that the agency’s small staff was tasked with drafting regulations and approving applicants in a limited amount of time.
“What we’re focused on at the board is consumer safety and public safety, and honestly, a slow rollout is not the worst thing in the world,”
Vermont is the fourteenth state in the nation to legalize adult-use cannabis sales for adults, leaving New Hampshire as the only state in New England to continue the prohibition of recreational marijuana commerce. Retail sales of adult-use cannabis have already begun in Maine and Massachusetts, and shops in Connecticut are expected to begin operation by the end of 2022.
Earlier this year, lawmakers legalized recreational marijuana possession and sales in Rhode Island, where regulators are in the process of drafting regulations to govern the cannabis industry.