At the 2021 installment of Town Meeting Day, roughly 30 Vermont cities and towns will hold votes to approve, or ‘opt-in’, to allow THC cannabis products to be sold over-the-counter as permitted by Act 164.
For those complaining about the Governor’s slow rollout of Vermont’s tax and regulation bill, Act 164, I’ll say both that ‘I told you so’ and ‘this is probably better than what’s coming next’…more on the latter in upcoming videos about corporate cannabis updates.
According to the law, the Cannabis Control Board should be issuing a major report in April that would provide the first outline for the crucial cost of licenses; however, the process is months behind due to delays in the nomination, application, and approval process.
Thanks to information collected by Vermont Cannabis Solutions, the Vermont Growers Association, and various media outlets like Vermont Public Radio, Brattleboro Reformer, and VTDigger, I’m up to 29 total towns and cities that will vote to approve some form of legal retail cannabis sales.
Below I’ve listed hose various cities and towns based on what I know about the local politics and some of the efforts of advocates, but I’ll toss in a huge disclaimer that there are a lot of effective advocates for and against retail sales and I haven’t spoken to every advocate in every single town.
These cities and towns have a 1% local option tax with immediate revenue from cannabis sales and/or an existing medical cannabis dispensary, and are almost 100% guaranteed to approve retail sales: Middlebury, Brattleboro, Burlington, Brandon, Winooski, and Montpelier.
These next cities and towns have either favorable local politics, well-placed advocates, and/or desperate needs for new business: Barton, Bennington, Richmond, Waitsfield, Waterbury, Duxbury, Lyndonville, Sutton, and Jamaica (separate vote on 3/24, thanks to Fran Janik for the heads-up).
These cities and towns obviously had enough interest to put the question on the ballot, but traditionally have more conservative politics and will likely be closer votes if they pass at all. The least likely towns to pass are St. Johnsbury, Vergennes, Newport, and Berlin
For some of the smaller towns in the northeast kingdom and southern Vermont, there are single or a few dedicated advocates who got these on the ballot. My gut on most of those towns is that the politics of the majority of residents are too conservative, but these tiny towns have hyper-local politics that I don’t know, so I’ll label these towns as likely, but not very confident: Randolph, Danville, Brownington, Danby, Pawlet, Pownal, Peacham, Salisbury, Strafford, and Sutton
Another unknown factor is how COVID will impact participation in Town Meeting Day.
While more ballots were mailed out than ever before, Town Meeting Day doesn’t have the same urgency as national elections — although local elections will impact your life more and you’re just as likely not to get direct cash payments — to actually send those ballots back IN and I’m concerned about participation.
The more people that vote, the more likely cannabis is to pass, so hopefully more time at home meant more people already voted, but if it’s just the hardcore Town Meeting Day voters — who skew older and more conservative, especially on cannabis — than even the votes in favorable towns could fail due to lack of turnout.
How will it shake out??
Join host Eli Harrington on the @Vermontijuana Instagram Live as we receive returns throughout the night!