Cannabis Sales in Vermont Hit Record High in February

The fledgling adult-use cannabis industry in Vermont continues to hum along, with sales hitting a record high in the month of February.

Heady Vermont reports that sales that month amounted to $6,477,957, which also represented a “a slight uptick in rate of sales growth, around 6.9% from January to February.”

The outlet has more details on the figures from February:

“The state’s mandatory 14% cannabis excise tax, which must be applied to all adult use cannabis purchases at retailers, brought in $906,914 in February. An additional 6% state sales tax, which must also be leveraged on cannabis products, generated another $388,677. To date, cannabis retailers in Vermont have sold $24,404,171 worth of cannabis products and collected $3,416,584 in excise tax since the state’s adult use market saw a modest launch last fall, with just three Vermont dispensaries licensed and open on October 1. Since October, that number has increased to nearly 50 retail establishments, with 52 Vermont dispensaries currently approved for licensure as of last week’s monthly meeting.”

Vermont’s adult-use cannabis market launched in October of last year after lawmakers in the state passed a law in 2020 establishing regulations for legal weed sales.

The state had essentially legalized recreational cannabis in 2018 when lawmakers ended the ban on personal possession and cultivation, but that measure failed to establish the framework for a market. 

The state’s Republican governor, Phil Scott, signed both of those bills.

“This new bill requires cities and towns to authorize these businesses before retail establishments may open. It ensures local zoning applies to cannabis cultivation and production. It dedicates 30% of the excise tax, up to $10 million per year, to education and prevention efforts. And the sales and use tax on cannabis would fund a grant program to expand afterschool and summer learning programs,” Scott said after signing the 2020 legislation. “Additionally, the FY21 budget includes language I proposed to move toward a universal afterschool network, which is based on a successful model from Iceland and is focused on preventing drug use and improving academic and social outcomes.”

In his statement at the time, Scott also called on lawmakers to continue to improve the law.

“Their work is not done,” he added. “The Legislature needs to strengthen education and prevention – including banning marketing that appeals in any way to our kids – otherwise they are knowingly failing to learn the lessons of the public health epidemic caused by tobacco and alcohol.”

“This has been a top priority for the majority in the Legislature for four years, but their work is not complete. They must ensure equity in this new policy and prevent their priority from becoming a public health problem for current and future generations. For these reasons, I am allowing this bill to become law without my signature,” Scott continued.

After the first legal stores opened for business in the fall, the state said that the stores sold $2.6 million worth of cannabis products in October.

Lawmakers in Vermont have continued to push for reform of the state’s drug laws. In March, they introduced several different bills that would have legalized psychedelics such as mushrooms, among other drugs.

One of the bills introduced would decriminalize all drugs. 

The text of the measure reads: “This bill proposes to change the penalties for possession of a personal use supply of drugs from a misdemeanor or low-level felony to a civil offense subject to a $50.00 penalty. A person cited for such an offense may avoid paying the penalty by agreeing to participate in a screening for substance use disorder treatment and related services. The bill would also establish the Drug Use Standards Advisory Board for the purpose of determining the benchmark personal use dosage and the benchmark personal use supply for regulated drugs with a goal of preventing and reducing the criminalization of personal drug use. Individuals previously arrested for or convicted of possession of a regulated drug in an amount under the benchmark personal use supply amount would also be eligible for immediate sealing of criminal history records. Additionally, to prevent overdose, the bill would also authorize the operation of drug-checking programs to allow individuals to obtain analysis of a regulated drug previously obtained by an individual for purposes of determining the chemical composition of the substance and identifying chemical contaminants. The bill would establish a pilot project to support the development and operation of such programs.”

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