Outdoor growers in the Green Mountain State voiced concerns about missing the growing season due to the state’s slow licensing start.
“I’m assuming for everyone except for the two outdoor growers you approved today, are not going to be growing for this season,” said prospective cultivator Austin Underwood. “I was wondering if there are some approvals later in the year, if outdoor growers will be expected to pay for a license fee for a year in which they are not growing.”
Underwood was one of several public commenters worried about the Cannabis Control Board’s approval timeline, during the Board’s April 23 meeting. That meeting also included the approval of three more cultivation licenses, one week following the state’s first approval.
The CCB had received 125 applications for outdoor cultivation as of May 20. Of those, 34 have been deemed incomplete and three are pending Board review. Comparatively, 56 applications have been submitted for indoor cultivation along with 15 applications for hybrid cultivation.
The state has yet to report any applications for manufacturing or retail, though there are two applications for retail from existing medical cannabis operators and two for testing labs. In addition the state is supposed to post license winners here, but so far has only listed one winner.
CCB Chair James Pepper noted that other states’ cannabis agencies have taken longer than Vermont’s to issue their initial round of licenses.
“We were seated on April 19, 2021. Thirteen months after, almost to the day, we issued our first license,” he said. “We are on pace with these other states, and we’re doing it by not issuing licenses to existing businesses, but to social equity applicants and small cultivators.”
Pepper also suggested that the slow start was a result of the licensing process being in its infancy with applicants still figuring out what a complete application includes.
“We have a number of licenses that are very close, but are still incomplete for one reason or another,” he said. “We’ve been in touch with these applicants and hopefully we’ll have these issues dealt with before our next meeting.”
A representative of Tree Frog Farm, who did not provide a personal name during the meeting, said he was worried that even if he did get a license in the next few months for outdoor growing, he would not be able to get plants in the ground in time for the season.
“Here we are at the end of May,” he said. “I submitted my app first of May and yet I haven’t been contacted with anything I’m missing.”
Dave Silberman, an attorney who represents cannabis operators. said he was concerned about the lack of applications for testing labs and how that might hinder the growth of Vermont’s cannabis supply chain.
“I’m concerned that only two testing labs have applied, and I was wondering if you had thought about what you might be able to do to encourage more applications in that very important part of the supply chain,” he said. “I am really really worried about the paucity of applications for testing labs.”
Pepper also said that the Board is operating with a small staff but that he expects at least three more employees to start soon.
“Please don’t take your frustrations out on our staff,” he said.