Vermont cannabis farmers optimistic about legislative changes

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Famers in the state can’t sell cannabis, but are rallying for reform

Vermont has laws that may not be entirely favorable to growers. In order to sell their products directly, they must purchase a $10,000 retail license. Otherwise, they must sell through an intermediary, such as a retail store. Fortunately, many in the trade are welcoming a new year with positive news, as some growers are working to officially legalize direct sales between the grower and the end consumer.

Vermont Growers Association executive director Geoffrey Pizzutillo says members want more control over how much they can charge. Rep. Emilie Kornheiser, who is also vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, appears to be one of the state legislators supporting the proposal.

“It’s really, really, really important to me that all of our cannabis legislation supports small growers,” Kornheiser said. “I’m curious to see if, in the next few years, the conversation winds up a lot like the raw-milk conversation.”

In 2009, Vermont established a law to allow farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers from their farms. Five years later, the state has allowed them to deliver and sell at farmers’ markets. Kornheiser hopes marijuana can get a similar deal and, thanks to his “fairly open mind,” believes farmers should have no obstacles to selling marijuana directly to consumers.

James Pepper, chairman of the state’s Cannabis Control Board assures that currently this power can only be acquired through a retail license, but its cost can be prohibitive for the average small grower. While direct-to-consumer sales of cannabis are not allowed anywhere in the country, Pepper believes that “in Vermont, we can all imagine a time when that would be allowed.”

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