Vermont Cannabis Control Board member Julie Hulburd demonstrates her thoughtful look for the rest of the Board in an online meeting October 29, 2021.

Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board approved two major recommendations to the state legislature on Oct. 29 to establish age limit-based caps on certain high-THC products and to recast oversight of the state’s medical cannabis program. The duel proposals are intended to keep Vermont competitive among New England cannabis producers while also ensuring equitable representation for medical cannabis users. 

The recommendations were made in a Nov. 1 report to the state legislature. It was the third of a trio of CCB reports required by the legislature for this fall.

Currently, the Marijuana Registry of the Public Safety Department oversees the state’s medical cannabis program, but under the new law allowing adult-use, control will transition to the CCB. The Marijuana Registry Oversight Committee, with only has six members and an irregular meeting schedule, has been targeted for elimination by the CCB, which is recommending replacement of the committee with a new entity with a larger board and a regular meeting schedule.

The recommended make-up of the 12-person board would be six members that are medical cannabis patients, three registered caregivers, two licensed health care professionals with knowledge of the medical use of cannabis and one licensed cultivator with expertise in medical strains.

The members would be appointed by the CCB. Members would serve three-year terms, but the CCB suggested that the terms be staggered to reduce the amount of vacancies at any given time.

“When we receive recommendations from this advisory board, I think it’s important to know that all stakeholders are represented,” said CCB Chair James Pepper.

Aside from possible changes to how the medical market is regulated, the CCB also recommended a change in which products are prohibited in the state.

“We have a specific requirement to move as much of the illegal cannabis market into the legal space,” said Pepper.

The board recommended that the state eliminate a current ban on THC concentrates that are higher than 60%, but to restrict the sale of those products to individuals that are at least 25 years old.

“Any time we prohibit anything, there’s going to be a black market for those products,” said Pepper. “I think having the increased age for these is one more indication that these products could be dangerous if you’re under that age.”

One of the problems with limiting the concentration of THC is that most methods of extraction naturally produce a higher concentration than 60%, according to Brynn Hare, executive director of the CCB.

Brynn explained that with a limit on concentration producers may have to cut their concentrates with other, potentially harmful, substances in order to reduce the percentage.

“Using a full concentration extraction allows product manufacturers to precisely calibrate how much THC is going into a product,” she added.

Allowing the high contraction would also allow Vermont to remain competitive with neighboring states that have existing adult-use markets.

“These products are used and widely available in out-of-state markets,” said Mare. “Not regulating them is going to allow the regulated market for them to thrive.

The CCB also recommended that the sale of products with synthesized Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC be legalized to allow the CCB to regulate it.

“Like any products with intoxicating properties, these substances should be subject to regulatory control,” said Mare.

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Zack cut his journalistic teeth covering high school sports in the south before spending a decade covering local government, politics and the courts in the Boston, Massachusetts area. He's previously written...