The outdoor grow at Fine Bud Farms, one of the Vermont outdoor growers who got a license this season. Credit: Fine Bud Farms

Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board spent this spring and summer doling out cultivation licenses. As that governing body takes a brief break this August, many, though not all, newly-minted cultivators are scrambling to grow after a late start to the season.

“This is very much an abbreviated outdoor season,” said Geoffrey Pizzutillo, executive director of the Vermont Growers Association, who added that some license awardees are sitting out this year, despite having the credentials to get started.

The Vermont legislature legalized adult use cannabis in 2018, but at that time, there was no legislation that would establish a legal market. That was eventually corrected in October 2020 with additional legislation.

After a months-long regulation writing process, the CCB issued its first cultivation licenses just three months ago, in May. Since then, the CCB has doled out 86 licenses for outdoor grows, 25 for indoor grows and 41 for mixed operations.

The CCB has been favoring outdoor license approvals, given that Vermont’s grow season is tightly bound between May and October. This means that although most of the license holders can grow outside, not everyone decided to take the plunge on a short season.

“I know a guy who is definitely not growing this season. He got his license too late,” said Pizzutillo.

The CCB is currently on an August break, but once weekly meetings resume, it is expected that the Board will begin looking at manufacturing and retail licenses, while shifting toward approvals for indoor grows.

From the conversations I’ve had, the percentage of indoor and outdoor grows in Vermont will likely shake out somewhere between 1/3 and a half of all cultivation licenses could be for outdoors, or full sun, as many in the industry prefer.

Regardless of where things fall, that range of growing operations suggests that Vermont prices could be prone to seasonal waves. Basically, if most of the flower is grown in the summer, the best prices will show up in the late fall.

“We hope to some extent that there is [fluctuation]. That may not necessarily be a bad thing,” said Pizzutillo. At the same time, he anticipated that Vermont’s market could favor craft growers that are able to manage a limited supply similarly to how premium coffee or craft beer survives with limited supplies. “I’ve been buying a high-quality coffee that comes out of Norway and that price point has not changed for ten years. It’s very high quality coffee and it’s a very controlled supply.”

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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...