On January 22, 2018, Governor Phil Scott signed H.B. 511, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The law made it legal for adults 21 years and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and have two mature marijuana plants or four immature plants in each dwelling unit in Vermont. However, the law failed to set up a system to tax and regulate the production and sale of the marijuana.
On February 15, 2019, the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee backed Senate Bill 54, a bill to create a regulated retail cannabis market in the Vermont. The legislation, which will move to the Senate Finance and Appropriations committees before consideration by the full Senate, would establish a statewide Cannabis Control Board tasked with setting up regulations and a permitting system for Vermont. Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Sears (D-Bennington) said that the legislation may get a full Senate vote before Town Meeting Day, which falls on March 5, 2019.
The new legislation proposes to establish a comprehensive regulatory system for the production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products in Vermont. The bill creates the Cannabis Control Board (the “Board”) as the independent regulatory authority for a commercial cannabis market. The Board will be responsible for adopting regulations and administering a licensing program, including compliance and enforcement, for cannabis establishments.
Vermont Marijuana Business License Types
Senate Bill 54 also outlines the types of licenses to become available upon the bill’s passing and the subsequent implementation of the program. There will be five types of licenses available:
Cultivator – a person licensed by the Board to engage in commercial cultivation of cannabis.
Wholesaler – a person licensed by the Board to buy cannabis from cultivators and process, transport, and sell cannabis to licensed product manufacturers and retailers.
Product manufacturer – a person licensed by the Board to manufacture, prepare, and package cannabis products and to sell cannabis products to a licensed retailer, wholesaler, or another product manufacturer.
Testing laboratory – a person licensed by the Board to test cannabis for cultivators, product manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers.
Retailer – a person licensed by the Board to sell cannabis and cannabis products to consumers for off-site consumption.
The Executive Director of the Cannabis Control Board shall provide recommendations for the fees (application fees, initial annual fee, renewal fee, etc.) to be charged and collected in accordance with the Board’s authority.
Some other facts about the proposed legislation:
- Municipalities will have the authority to require municipal permits for a cannabis establishment and may prohibit the operation of a cannabis establishment or a specific type of cannabis establishment within the municipality by majority vote of those present and voting at an annual or special meeting warned for the purpose.
- The Board would develop tiers for cultivator licenses based on the plant canopy size of the cultivation operation and may develop tiers for other licenses as appropriate.
- An applicant and its affiliates would be able to obtain a maximum of one type of each license.
- Each license would permit only one location of the establishment.
- Applicants are not required to be Vermont residents, but residency will be considered in prioritizing issuance of licenses
If passed, the law would take effect on July 1, 2019. From there, the Board would be assembled, and an application process would follow shortly after.
Vermont Marijuana Program Timeline:
- On or before September 15, 2020 – the Board shall begin accepting applications for cultivator licenses and testing laboratory licenses. The initial application period shall remain open for 30 days. During this initial application period, the Board shall give preference to smaller cultivation operations in an effort to encourage small local farmers to enter the market.
- On or before December 1, 2020 – the Board shall begin issuing cultivator and testing laboratory licenses to qualified applicants.
- On or before November 15, 2020 – the Board shall begin accepting applications for product manufacturer licenses and wholesaler licenses. The initial application period shall remain open for 30 days.
- On or before February 1, 2021 – the Board shall begin issuing product manufacturer and wholesaler licenses to qualified applicants.
- On or before January 15, 2021 – the Board shall begin accepting applications for retailer licenses. The initial application period shall remain open for 30 days.
- On or before April 1, 2021 – the Board shall begin issuing retailer licenses to qualified applicants
The Board may reopen the application process for any period of time at its discretion.
Finally, as part of the application process, each applicant would have to submit an operating plan in a format prescribed by the Board. We recommend using our Dispensary Operations Plan Template to help you draft your plan.
Begin Preparing For Vermont Marijuana Business License Applications
If you want to open a marijuana business in Vermont, it’s best to start preparing now to get ahead of the game. Begin educating yourself on all that will be involved in an application process to obtain a marijuana business license with our Vermont Marijuana Business Starter Package. The package includes:
- An Informational Overview of Vermont’s marijuana laws
- An Application Guide & Checklist for a detailed summary and checklist of over 100 action items you'll need to complete before submitting your application
- A Business Plan Template to help you draft an executive summary for your business
- A Financial Plan Template to give you and your investors a comprehensive 3-year projection of what to expect when operating a medical marijuana business