By LISA RATHKE Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — In the first three months that Vermont has allowed the retail sale of marijuana for adult recreational use, the number of dispensaries around the state has grown from just three to about 25, with several more are expected to open soon.
Vermont is among nearly two dozen states that have legalized recreational marijuana, including New York, where the first legal dispensary for recreational marijuana opened on Thursday in lower Manhattan.
At the beginning of October when Vermont legalized retailers’ ability to sell adult-use recreational marijuana, only four shops were licensed and just three were open for business that first weekend. Now 25 such dispensaries have opened around the state as of about a week ago and another four announced they plan to open within a month, according to Nellie Marvel of the Vermont Cannabis Control Board. Seven others have received licenses.
Aside from Burlington, Rutland and Middlebury, retail cannabis shops are now open in Brattleboro, Derby and Montpelier as well as in the small towns of Cambridge and Barton, among other communities.
In Vermont’s capital city of Montpelier, a steady stream of customers shopped at Capital Cannabis Co. on Friday. The store, which opened in November, had its two biggest days in sales last week, owner Lauren Andrews said. Customers stocking up before the storm and buying gifts contributed to the increase in sales, she said.
“We are developing a very strong loyal customer base already,” Andrews said.
In Derby, sales have also been strong at The High Country dispensary, said co-owner Brian Fisher, who said numbers tripled heading into the holidays as they were able to expand inventory.
Vermont’s inaugural weekend on Oct. 1 was expected to be “a soft opening,” similar to the rollout of recreational marijuana sales in other states and in Canada, as more product manufacturers and testing facilities came online and as more people harvested the plant, James Pepper, chair of the state Cannabis Control Board, said at the time.
Since then the board has licensed more indoor cultivators — as well as retailers and outdoor cultivators who harvested in October and recently got their products on the shelves, he said Thursday.
“So this is probably a high point for our supply chain,” he said.
“We’re seeing a very steady entry of new products on the market every single day,” Pepper said.