Vermont bringing access to patients…

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Vermont marijuana dispensaries expected in summer

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s first medical marijuana dispensaries might be slightly delayed by Tropical Storm Irene but could begin to pop up as early as this summer.

A law that passed last year authorized up to four privately run dispensaries, putting the job of creating rules for them in the hands of the state Public Safety Department.

Those rules should be ready in the next couple of weeks, Francis Aumand, director of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, told the Senate Government Operations Committee on Wednesday.

Because of the state’s procedures for vetting those rules, Aumand said he wasn’t sure he could meet a June 2 deadline for issuing certificates to applicants interested in running dispensaries, but that it shouldn’t take much longer than that. Flooding from Tropical Storm Irene at the department’s offices in Waterbury delayed work on the project by about eight weeks, he said.

Legislators who pushed for the dispensaries weren’t complaining. Senate Government Operations Chairwoman Jeanette White, D-Windham, said advocates she’s heard from have been pleasantly surprised by the state’s responsiveness. She said she did not want to rush the rule-making process, which allows legislators and the public to weigh in.

Aumand said how quickly a dispensary could open depends on the applicants and how quickly they can grow the marijuana or acquire it from some other way. Though it will be legal for a dispensary to have and sell marijuana to Vemonters on the medical marijuana registry, it would still be illegal for the owner to buy it from another producer.

Aumand said he’s heard from several people interested in running a dispensary, selling marijuana to Vermonters on the medical marijuana registry. He said authorities in Maine warned him, however, that they had people apply to open a dispensary and then back out.

Vermont has 411 patients and 68 caregivers on the medical marijuana registry, which allows them state permission to grow enough for their own use. The dispensaries are designed to give patients who can’t grow the drug another legal means of acquiring it.

Marijuana possession and use remains illegal under federal law even

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