Republican Governor Phil Scott has signed legislation into law providing financial assistance to social equity applicants seeking to enter the retail marijuana industry.
Senate Bill 25 appropriates $500,000 from the General Fund to establish a ‘Cannabis Business Development Fund.’ The Fund shall provide “financial assistance, loans, grants, and outreach to social equity applicants” who are seeking to operate state-licensed marijuana facilities. Regulators shall develop explicit criteria for these applicants at a later date.
Commenting on the new law, NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf said: “This law will promote both financial assistance and diversity in Vermont’s nascent retail cannabis industry. These changes will help to establish a fair and diverse marketplace that reflects Vermont’s values and priorities.”
Other provisions in the new law provide for rules governing the ways that retailers may market their products, affirm local controls for municipalities to decide whether or not to permit marijuana retailers in their communities, earmark a portion of tax revenues toward substance prevention programs, and require retailers to obtain a portion of their cannabis flower inventory (25 percent) exclusively from licensed small cultivators.
The advertising provisions and the language appropriating tax revenues toward prevention will take effect on March 1, 2022. All other provisions of the law take immediate effect.
Governor Scott previously signed legislation into law in 2018 legalizing the personal possession and home cultivation of marijuana by adults. He signed separate legislation into law last year regulating commercial marijuana production and retail sales. Those sales are anticipated to begin next spring.