What to expect from Burlington’s cannabis market

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 11:51 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Three cannabis shops in Burlington have approval from the city to open their doors on Oct. 1, but two are still waiting on the greenlight from the state.

Green State Gardener has been open since 2016, selling grow and CBD products. They jumped right on the opportunity to get into the adult-use market, but when they’ll be able to open is a mystery.

“We’re ready to go as soon as that license comes in,” said Kelsy Rapp with Green State Gardener.

For the past several months, businesses have reworked store space and applied for zoning and city permits, as well as state licenses to enter the adult-use market.

Green State Gardener on Pine Street says they’ve felt supported through the process.

“The city has been working with us closely as everyone feels their way through this new process,” Rapp said.

While they were hoping to open on Oct. 1 and get their tier-one grow-room going shortly after, they’re still waiting to hear back about a state license.

Grass Queen, which also got approval from the city of Burlington, is in the same boat. Grass Queen is an all-female, queer-owned shop that’s working to grow its product in Plainfield.

“There’s so much to figure out in this market, you know, every day is waiting on something else to figure out the next thing,” said Jahala Dudley, who owns Grass Queen.

I spoke with Vermont Cannabis Control Board Chair James Pepper on Wednesday. He says four stores have received a state retail license, while there are still about 30 more waiting for the go-ahead. Those stores approved are in West Brattleboro, Rutland, Middlebury and Burlington. Pepper says there’s not a holdup on their end when it comes to licensing, but that the stores likely haven’t submitted everything.

“We can’t license anyone without all of those documents are in our hand and we’ve conducted a site visit,” Pepper told WCAX News. “Of all the ones that are close, we’ve already conducted a site visit, but we’re just waiting on those documents.”

Ceres, the third store Burlington approved, did not return our request for comment. It’s the only company planning to open in Burlington that already has a state license. They have a sign on the door of their College Street storefront saying they’ll be opening Saturday, Oct. 1. Pepper speculates they had an easier time getting a license since they were previously open as a medical facility.

While the other two companies ride out the uncertainty, they’re getting ready to offer the best local products and make a positive impact on the community.

“It’s always been our goal to help people understand humans have evolved alongside cannabis for millennia,” Rapp said. “This is a plant that’s engrained in our physiological structure.”

“We want it to be a safe space,” Dudley said. “We want cannabis to be accessible in Vermont and for people to feel like they have a place to come and ask questions.”

Both stores we spoke with hope to open by the end of the year.

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