Editors Note/Disclosure: I’m not technically an applicant for a license but I do intend to apply, so theoretically, I would have an interest in being extra nice to the Cannabis Control Board (CCB); however, I did apply for a paid consulting job with the CCB last year and they didn’t hire me, so I’ve only got so much sympathy.
I also spent a few years in the state house lobbying for cannabis reforms and since I started, have tried as hard as I possibly could to predict and fix the hiccups and bullshit before and while the law being written – and once the CCB started – so I’m pretty zen about weed politics at this point in accepting what I can/not control…that said, this post might read like excuses for the licensing delay, and like an old coach of mine used to say, “excuses are like assholes: everyone’s got em and they all stink.” Enjoy this stinky blog…
For those applying for the first round of cannabis business licenses in Vermont, but there’s usually/always more context so for people looking for someone or something to blame, here are the TOP THREE REASONS WHY CANNABIS LICENSES ARE DELAYED.
1- The conditions around this bill not being vetoed by the Governor was that it must be cost-neutral or as close as possible…
Everyone knew the control board would need more staff, but they couldn’t start hiring additional staff until application money started coming in.
2- Dispensaries successfully made the argument their six-month head start on sales would fund the staff the board needed to review everyone else’s application faster.
The successful argument made by the various dispensaries’ respective lobbyists — David Mickenberg, Virginia Renfrew, John Hollar to name the top three — was that if the dispensaries were given a six-month head start to start sales in May, they would start generating sales tax revenue for the CCB.
The CCB’s operational budget is funded by sales and excise tax revenues, so those hypothetical May 2022 adult-use sales revenues from dispensaries’ sales to hire the dozen extra people they should have for the initial licensing review period.
For what it’s worth, SLANG and Curaleaf are both applying for integrated licenses; the iAnthus license (for the Grassroots Vermont medical dispensary in Brandon) hasn’t submitted an application yet and could end up changing hands before it does.
3- It’s a cumbersome and complex process.
The CCB could have made some things slightly easier, but there’s only so much about the process of licensing a federally-illegal business that the state can control. Therefore, just like for applicants, it’s taken a lot of time for the state to start reviewing applications and explain things to people.
And with the applications coming in, there’s a lot of explaining to do: about <10% of applications submitted have been 100% complete on the first try,
In conclusion, the initial rollout was going to be a bumpy road no matter what because of the political circumstances in which the bill was written and passed…you’ll never be wrong if you blame Governor Phil Scott for any delays that happen now since he vetoed legalization in 2017 and delayed everything an extra year.
Those political constraints might seem just as avoidable and illogical now, but maybe understanding more of the background will help would-be applicants.