Medical marijuana dispensary guidelines released
State legislators say Vermont wouldn’t have a medical marijuana law if it wasn’t for Manchester Resident Mark Tucci. Eight years after the initial legislation passed, new rules are in place for businesses to sell marijuana to patients like him. “They did a real good job. They went from the perspective of what’s best for the patients first. Second — how do we avoid diversion,” Tucci said.
The 400 plus Vermont patients currently grow their own medicine or have others do it for them, but as many as four distribution centers are expected to be operational by the end of the year.
While Tucci says he doesn’t plan to stop growing, a recent survey found that 90-percent of patients say they’d make the switch. That’s because many lack the expertise and the physical capability to grow medicinal cannabis.
Burlington resident Shayne Lynn isn’t a patient, but says he’s already secured a location for his future dispensary. He’ll have to apply to the state for consideration and pay 30-thousand dollars a year for the right to operate. That’s on top of startup costs expected to eclipse 150-thousand dollars. “We’re going to have to balance offering affordable medicinal cannabis with running a nonprofit business,” Lynn said.
The new rules will mandate background checks, significant video security and one-at-a-time appointment-only service at the dispensaries.
Patient advocates like Virginia Renfrew says that — along with a state-wide 1-thousand patient limit — should prevent federal raids seen in other states. “I think that hopefully — for the federal government — when they look at Vermont, they look at Vermont as being a model,” she said.
Patients and advocates they’d like the state to make available product testing, a delivery system and an alternative method of receiving medicine for those who grow their own but suffer crop loss.
But those Channel 3 spoke to say that can wait.