Municipal voters in Vermont can prevent retail marijuana sales; cultivation can be restricted by zoning

Cannabis Tax and Regulate (S.54) became law October 7. Retail sales will become fully effective in 2022.

The new tax and regulate system is still a work in progress, with responsibility for some details left to the new Cannabis Control Board, which will be formed in 2021. A nominating committee for the board was scheduled to be named November 1. Here are some key points about local implementation, as developed by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission:

  • Retail sales will only be allowed in communities that vote to opt-in. In other words: No marijuana retail store can open unless town voters affirmatively decide, at a warned meeting, to allow retail operations.
  • Cultivation, testing, warehousing, and distribution are not subject to any municipal opt-in.
  • Municipalities cannot issue blanket prohibitions of cannabis establishments via ordinance or zoning, but the uses are subject to zoning. The bill empowers communities to create local cannabis control commissions, which can condition a local license on any zoning bylaw.
  • Cannabis shall not be regulated as “farming,” and cultivated cannabis shall not be considered an agricultural product or agricultural crop under state laws. Municipalities will have the power to regulate cannabis cultivation through zoning, unlike traditional agricultural practices and agricultural structures.


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