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How to Open a Marijuana Dispensary in Vermont

Last Updated: 09/23/2019

In 2018, the governor of Vermont signed a bill that legalized possession and the limited cultivation of cannabis. Nevertheless, legal framework for opening and running marijuana businesses for recreational use is still in progress. Advocates and policy makers estimate the draft bill will be signed into law in early 2020.

Commercial sale of medical marijuana has been legal since 2014, although the market remains untouched. If you want to be part of this growing business, there are strict state and local laws and regulations you need to comply with.

The following table outlines regulations and compliance issues you should be aware of when opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Vermont.

Relevant Laws

Application Fees

  • Application fee: $2,500 (non-refundable)
  • Licensing fee: $20,000 for the first year and $25,000 for later years
  • Registration identification card fee: $50 for each employee, financier, and owner of a dispensary

Types of Licenses

The state only recognizes dispensary licenses. Business owners with this license can grow, manufacture, or sell cannabis.

Who Can I Sell To?

You can only sell to registered patients or caregivers who are residents of Vermont. You need to verify this information by asking for the registration card issued by the Vermont Marijuana Registry.

Criminal History

The Marijuana Registry must see your federal, Vermont, and out-of-state criminal records before it reaches a decision on your application.

The department will reject your application if you have a pending charge or were convicted of a violent felony or a drug-related offense.

How Much Cannabis Can I Sell?

The registered patient or caregiver can’t possess marijuana in excess of:
  • Two mature cannabis plants; or
  • Usable cannabis up to two ounces

Other Useful Resources

The Vermont General Assembly website may be a good resource to check the progress of the Act Regulating Cannabis (S.54), which would allow commercial sale of marijuana, if passed.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Who Issues the Licenses?

The Department of Public Safety Marijuana Registry is the organization in charge of issuing cannabis cards for patients and making sure dispensaries are compliant with the state laws.

Can I Open a Dispensary That Sells Recreational Marijuana?

Vermont law allows for anyone who is 21 or older to posses up to one ounce of cannabis. However, adults are still not allowed to buy marijuana for recreational use. The Vermont Senate has passed an act relating to the regulation of cannabis, a bill that will regulate and tax marijuana sales. The bill will to go to a vote in early 2020.

Is There a Limit to the Number of Dispensaries Allowed in the State?

The act states that only five dispensaries can have registration certificate at a given time. However, the department will issue the sixth dispensary when the number of registered patients reach 7,000.

The department will also accept applications if any of the existing dispensaries’ licenses expire or are revoked. Therefore, it is important to regularly look at the Marijuana Registry website to check whether the department is accepting new applications.

Can I Open My Dispensary Anywhere?

No. The law prohibits marijuana dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of a preexisting private or public school. They also can’t operate within 1,000 feet of any child care facility.

What Should I Include in the Marijuana Dispensary Registration Application?

Since a small number of dispensaries can operate at a time in the state, the application process is very stringent and very specific. Some of the documents you need to present to get a dispensary license include:

  • Proof and description of a locked and secure facility where you intend to distribute cannabis
  • Proof of security measures to prevent and deter unauthorized entrance
  • Name, date of birth, and fingerprints of the owner and financer of the dispensary
  • Procedures showing your plans for accurate record keeping
  • The address of the dispensary

The department also looks at several factors to determine whether you qualify for a license. Some of these factors include whether:

  • Your proposed location is geographically convenient to patients
  • You have the required experience to run a dispensary
  • You have a criminal history

Section 4474f of the act lists out the requirements for new business owners to get their dispensary applications approved.

Are There Any Packaging Requirements?

If you own a marijuana dispensary, you must include a label on the packaging of the marijuana you sell. Some of the information you need to mention in the label includes:

  • A statement showing Vermont does not confirm that cannabis has medical value
  • A statement showing the exact amount of THC included in the marijuana product you are selling

You can find the complete list of the labeling requirements under section 4474e of the statue.

Are the Laws Similar in All Vermont Cities?

No. The laws give broad discretion to municipalities to enact zoning ordinances that determine the manner of dispensary operations. The city of Killington, for instance, is looking into completely banning opening of medical cannabis dispensaries in the city. It’s thus very imperative that you know the local laws prior to starting a cannabis business.

Additional Resources

Speak With a Vermont Business Attorney Before You Start Your Application

The marijuana industry is a rapidly growing industry. But the application procedure is very strict and complicated, especially in Vermont where the laws are constantly changing. Consulting with a Vermont cannabis business and commercial lawyer will help you ensure compliance with the application process.