The proposed site of a future cannabis store on Main Street in Manchester.

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MANCHESTER — It’s been nearly a year since the Manchester Selectboard approved zoning changes allowing for cannabis retail outlets to do business in a narrow section of the town’s retail center.

But opening a store selling products containing THC — the naturally occurring compound in cannabis that gives users a high — isn’t as easy as it looks, according to people involved in starting up such businesses.

To date, the Manchester Development Review Board has approved two businesses for cannabis retail along sections of Main and Depot streets near the roundabout — Aunt Bonnie’s Elevated, in October, and Green Mountain Cannabis Works, in February.

In the meantime, two cannabis retail businesses have opened in Bennington in the past several months: Juniper Lane, on Main Street, late last fall, and Silver Therapeutics last month.

Green Mountain Cannabis Works has a DRB permit in hand to conduct retail at 4532 Main St., in the same building as Josiah Allen Real Estate. It’s near the boundary of the town’s retail cannabis zone, adjacent to Haig’s Sports Bar and Seasons Restaurant.

As of Tuesday, the business was not listed as having a retail license from the state on the Cannabis Control Board website. An interactive map on the website showed an application from “Manchester Center — Retail Cannabis Applicant” but did not specify who had applied.

“We’re working through the licensing of the operator and the buildout of the property,” Bennington attorney Tom Dailey, the agent for Green Mountain Cannabis Works LLC, said Tuesday. He didn’t disclose who will be operating the business, or predict when it will open.

In addition to building out the space to meet state-mandated security requirements, there are a good many hurdles to clear that other businesses might take for granted, such as insurance and banking services, Dailey explained.

“When I look at the depth and breadth of regulations and how many moving parts there are … When you apply for a license it’s $1,500, then it’s $10,000 once you get the license and $10,000 to keep it,” Dailey said.

A glance at the rules set by the Cannabis Control Board shows that’s just the start.

• If retailers, wholesalers, testing laboratories, tier 1 manufacturers and tier 4-5-6 cultivators cannot obtain commercial insurance, they must have no less than $250,000 in escrow for potential liabilities.

• License holders must complete enforcement training every three years, and employees must undergo training on health and safety procedures, rule compliance, acceptable forms of identification, inventory control and cash handling within 60 days of being hired.

• Inventory must be carefully tracked.

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• Only persons with a Cannabis Establishment identification card can transport cannabis.

State regulations even extend to the trash: “Cannabis or cannabis products must be rendered unusable and unrecognizable before disposal,” the rules say.

As was the case in its permit for Aunt Bonnie’s, the Manchester DRB only made a few demands of Green Mountain Cannabis Works. Chief among them: it cannot open the doors until it has the proper permits from the state Cannabis Control Board.

Among other conditions: The DRB stipulated that the windows be frosted for security purposes; that lighting be downward facing; and that employees must use parking behind the building and not neighboring business parking lots.

Aunt Bonnie’s was permitted first, but there’s been a change of plans, owner Vallis Goodermote said.

After struggling to obtain a lease within the boundaries of Manchester’s retail zone — she said she and her current landlord, Manchester Designer Outlets, “hit a brick wall” and were unable to come to terms on her current space at 97 Depot St. — Goodermote has decided against cannabis retail and will focus on other natural health products in addition to CBD, she said.

“Especially with investments you have to make in security it’s too risky financially,” Goodermote said. “We’re working to switch to more natural health products other than cannabis at this time because we’ve struggled to find a home in Manchester.”

Goodermote said she looked at other locations, including across the street at 96 Depot St., and was not able to find a suitable property or lease conditions. She believes it’s a combination of factors, including the commercial rental market in Manchester and the unwillingness of some professional services — banking, accounting and insurance, among them — to take a risk on an emerging business that remains illegal in many states and under federal law.

She said one landlord offered terms including that she leave in a month if the property owner’s bank did not approve of housing a cannabis business.

Goodermote and Alissa Hauben Appel, the director of leasing for Manchester Designer Outlets, gave different accounts of why the two sides did not reach agreement on a lease.

Goodermote said MDO informed her they did not want to lease in the cannabis retail business. Appel said MDO had concerns about the viability of Aunt Bonnie’s business plan, but would be open to leasing to a cannabis business in the future.

“I have no problem giving a lease to the business [Goodermote] has going. She’s clearly successful at it,” Appel added.

Reach Greg Sukiennik at or at 802-447-7567, ext. 119.