MONTPELIER — Concerned Vermont residents who have a relationship with the medical cannabis market in the state were invited to a roundtable with the Cannabis Control Board to discuss the fees associated with medical cannabis, or marijuana.
James Pepper, chair of the Cannabis Control Board, led the discussion. He fixed his focus on how the medical cannabis system is inaccessible and unaffordable for many Vermonters. The cannabis available to medical patients is also seen as sub-par.
Pepper attributes the issues facing the medical marijuana market to all the hoops distributors and patients have to jump through before being approved. Many of the legislators who were not sympathetic to the advocacy for medical cannabis have retired, Pepper said, and he believes there is room for common sense cannabis legislation.
He noted that the adult use license fee is $10,000, but the medical cannabis license fee is $25,000. This essentially prices out most dispensaries from selling to medical cannabis patients. Pepper would like to see the dispensary fee reduced so that money can be put back into the product.
The floor was then opened to comments from the attendees on the fees associated with the medical program. Some attendees changed their name or only used first names for anonymity purposes.
Meg D’Elia agreed with Pepper, and many other attendants of the meeting, that the fees should be lowered. She added that the application deadlines for medical cannabis and adult use should coincide so it’s easier for dispensaries to summit both applications.
Several attendees brought up the fees for patients that are associated with getting the medical cannabis card in the state. Patients currently have to reapply every year, and that comes with annual fees. An attendee who went by Amelia said long-term patients should not have to reapply for their card, and suffer the burden of paying the fee for each application.
QUALITY AND LICENSING CONCERNS
Colleen, a manager at a medical dispensary, said she does her best to lower her cannabis prices and get high-quality products, but she’s worried about the adult use market and how it will impact her sales. She said she worries that adult use markets will have a better quality product. She wants medically licensed dispensaries to also have an adult use license, so medical dispensaries can provide the same level of quality as adult use.
Tito Bern liked Colleen’s idea of adding the medical license to the adult use license. He’s mainly concerned with having a simple and smooth process for checking out patients when they come to the dispensary.
Caleb T. told the board that cannabis sold to patients can be moldy. He made it clear that patients weren’t impressed with the program, and that they’re frustrated with the subpar product.
Keith Rowe is a medical cannabis patient. He thinks patients should be able to enter an adult use dispensary without paying the additional taxes recreational users pay, if the patient shows their medical cannabis card.
Meredith Mann added that medical cannabis cards should be given out based on symptoms, not illnesses. Requiring patients to have a certain illness can prevent patients, who would benefit from the card, from getting it.
The Cannabis Control Board plans to take the public’s feedback into consideration when making adjustments to the medical cannabis program and consulting with legislators.