Hmm, Who’s to Blame for the Cannabis Control Board’s Rough Debut?

VTDigger is up with a story about the Vermont Cannabis Control Board issuing 13 more licenses for growers, manufacturers and retailers. Deeper in the story is a tale of bureaucratic woe that makes one wonder who exactly created the budget for the new organization. Based on track record, I’m guessing the Scott administration.

See, the legal cannabis market is supposed to open this weekend but only four retailers have been licensed — and they’ll have little or nothing to sell because a lot of growers are waiting for their licenses.

James Pepper, chair of the Cannabis Control Board, said at Wednesday’s meeting that the process of setting up regulations and getting an entire market going by October has been like “building a parachute while in the middle of a freefall.”

Pepper acknowledged that there is frustration with the pace of issuing licenses.

Cannabis growers, manufacturers and retailers have been champing at the bit to serve the market as soon as possible. They’ve made up-front investments and need to start making money. They’re now stuck on a slow track, thanks to the understaffed CCB.

But wait, there’s more!

Pepper warned that the pace at which the board is issuing licenses, more than 200 licenses in five months, cannot be kept up with present staffing. He said the board is directing staff to move at a more sustainable pace from now on, and suspected the number of approvals of licenses each week would slow down.

It’s been slow, and it’s going to get even slower.

I mean, who could have predicted a flood of applications to enter a brand-new market? Well, maybe anybody with two brain cells. But the budget writers seem to have been a little short in that department.

Either that, or the administration — which fought tooth and nail against a regulated cannabis marketplace — is deliberately making the process as difficult as possible.

This is especially odd considering that regulated cannabis will provide a healthy revenue stream for the state. But it couldn’t put up the money to make the Board a smooth-running operation? Gadzooks.

I’m not sure which of those options is worse: stupidity or willful obstructionism. But my money is on the latter. The evidence: the state’s informational flyer that must be given to all customers*. It’s just a hair this side of “Reefer Madness,” and many of the warnings are rendered in ALL CAPS.

*Can be downloaded from the CCB’s website.

There are warnings about taking cannabis across state lines, driving under the influence, indulging while pregnant or breastfeeding, engaging in strenuous activity, taking health advice from retailers, consumption by minors, use on public lands, mixing cannabis with any other “mind-altering substance,” and more. It warns that cannabis “can trigger psychosis or suicidal thoughts.” It advises that your cannabis supply, unlike, say, your flippin’ guns, should be securely locked away at all times.

(That bit about secure storage is repeated twice in the flyer.)

But here’s where the mind turns back to “Reefer Madness.” The flyer warns that too much use, or the use of potent strains of cannabis, “can cause feelings of paranoia, unstoppable vomiting, dizziness, anxiety, or other uncomfortable effects.”

Unstoppable vomiting, you say.

That’s a reference to what is sometimes called “scromiting,” or screaming while vomiting, allegedly triggered by overconsumption.

I mean, good God, the dangers cited in “Reefer Madness” — wild parties and jazz music — are downright tame by comparison.

Tee flyer is about as dense and readable as a Dr. Bronner’s label. It’s an example of what the experts call “throwing everything at the wall and hoping something will stick.” It’s meant to scare as many people as possible away from The Demon Weed.

Considering that the flyer’s target demo is people who have voluntarily entered a cannabis retailer, I’d say its chances of success are vanishingly small. But that’s the administration’s mindset as we enter the legally-established cannabis market. They’re doing this only because it’s mandated by state law. Their hearts are still very much in the realm of grossly exaggerated scare films from the 1930s.

And that’s why I believe the Cannabis Control Board was purposely kneecapped to make the market’s rollout as difficult and lengthy as possible. It makes perfect sense, given the administration’s slow-playing of the entire process.


2 thoughts on “Hmm, Who’s to Blame for the Cannabis Control Board’s Rough Debut?

  1. P.

    Incompetence or passive aggressive bullshit?
    These licenses should have been granted in December 2021, that is basic spring planting schedule. Now 100s of thousands of tax dollars are being left on the table. Jobs are not being created and money is not circulating. I don’t smoke but if I did I couldn’t grow my own (nowhere to purchase acclimatized seeds) and I have nowhere to buy any legally on October 1st. But I can get blackout drunk easy enough.
    You don’t think Phil Scott wouldn’t weasel veto a reproductive rights bill? I say it comes down to the day the bill is on his desk. Has he been re-elected already? Then veto for some smarmy passive-aggressive crap.

  2. A J Van Tassel

    It’s both stupidity AND willful obstruction but it’s also that our state government moves at a glacial pace especially when it come to staffing. People apply for a job, then the application goes into the “being reviewed” bucket and there it sits for months and months. Naturally, especially in todays job market and the states constant attacks on state employee benefits, good people go elsewhere. Then you have an administration that intentionally slow walked everything related to cannabis legalization. I don’t know anyone on the CCB, but given the fact that Scott intentionally held off appointing them until it was too late for them to realistically meet the deadline, I’m willing to cut them at least some slack, the Gov knee-capped them from the start. The roll out was set up to fail.


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