Starting a Cannabis Business in Vermont

by | Feb 13, 2024

Starting a Cannabis Business in Vermont

Thinking about starting a cannabis business in Vermont, like a retail store, lab, or grow room? There’s a lot to learn first. It’s a high-risk, high-reward industry with many legal pitfalls. But with careful preparation, your Vermont cannabis business can grow, thrive, and flourish.

The History of Cannabis Legalization in Vermont

A quick look at the background of legal (and illegal) cannabis in Vermont is beneficial for all future dispensary owners.

Vermont legalized medical marijuana use in 2004 and decriminalized possession in 2013, meeting little political opposition. The legalization journey for recreational cannabis was less straightforward. It took a combination of tax revenue feasibility studies, facetious alcohol prohibition proposals, and vetoed bills before recreational cannabis got the green light in 2018.

However, this only permitted recreational use, possession, and cultivation. Selling cannabis was still illegal. It wasn’t until 2022 that medical dispensaries and adult-use retailers could legally sell cannabis products to cannabis users in Vermont.

Now, adults over 21 can possess, use, grow, and purchase reasonable quantities of cannabis and its derivatives, provided that they’re in a private location while consuming.

Vermont’s Cannabis Market

A critical aspect of starting a cannabis business in Vermont is understanding the market and how your venture might fit into the existing landscape. Know who your competitors are, how large your potential audience is, and where the industry is headed.

Vermont has the second-highest rate of adult cannabis use in the country at over 32%. Given the size of the state’s adult population, that’s a target audience of more than 170,000 potential customers—plus purchases made by Vermont’s many tourists.

It’s tricky to predict how this will translate into revenue since the legal retail market is still so new, but all signs look promising. In its first year, retail cannabis sales revenue in Vermont topped $100 million. The feasibility study that preceded legalization efforts indicated that this could be a fraction of the market’s full potential.

However, it’s always worth throwing in a cautionary note. As more states establish legalization measures and more businesses enter the playing field, product prices are plummeting and the market is quickly stabilizing. It may be wise to start your Vermont cannabis business now before the opportunity disappears like a puff of smoke.

How to Start a Cannabis Business in Vermont

No matter where you operate, starting a cannabis business involves the same basic steps, more or less. For comprehensive details, refer to our guide: How to Start a Cannabis Business.

  • Determine your business type: retailer, lab, cultivator, manufacturer, distributor, support service, or something else.
  • Develop a plan using resources like the Vermont Small Business Development Center. Cover aspects like your business model, structure, financial needs, and marketing strategy.
  • Consider zoning regulations when selecting a brick-and-mortar location, if applicable.
  • Address official matters through the Vermont Cannabis Control Board, including applying for and annually renewing a license. The VCCB website has plenty of information and resources for business owners to peruse.
  • Register your business and obtain an EIN.
  • Get comprehensive insurance coverage for assets, customers, and personnel.
  • Secure funding and bank accounts. Consider alternatives to major FDIC-affiliated banks, such as local institutions, private investors, or specialized industry lenders. The VCCB website suggests several banking options on its FAQ page.

Your future holds plenty of decisions regarding employees, distribution, and more. These foundational steps are just the beginning of running a successful cannabis business in Vermont.

Vermont Cannabis Security Regulations

Security is a big deal in the cannabis industry—a big enough deal that it’s worth discussing on its own. Cannabis is valuable, portable, and difficult to trace. Plus, retailers often have lots of cash on hand, making them attractive targets for criminals.

It’s little wonder that Vermont requires cannabis businesses to have certain security measures in place to protect the public. (As a bonus, you benefit from strong business security, too.)

Your requirements depend slightly on your business type. You’ll likely need:

  • Fencing around any outdoor areas
  • Controlled points of access with locks
  • A video surveillance system that continuously records areas with cannabis products, points of sale, and entrances/exits and stores footage for 30 days
  • A commercial-grade alarm system
  • Motion activated flood-lights
  • Security services, which may include the physical presence of a security guard
  • Employee ID badges
  • Procedures for responsibly collecting and disposing of product waste

It may seem like a lot, but security is tantamount to the success of your cannabis business.

Cannabis Security Solutions from Deep Sentinel

As you can see, starting a cannabis business in Vermont can be rewarding, but it can also be a complicated undertaking. There are a lot of risks involved, including the risk of crime.

Deep Sentinel mitigates these risks with innovative cannabis security solutions. Smart surveillance cameras detect movement at your property after hours, escalating anything suspicious to real guards who intervene immediately on your behalf. The system takes security camera monitoring to a whole new level, stopping criminals long before they can cause trouble.

Install a system that exceeds state regulations (and your wildest expectations), and you’re already off to a great start. Best of luck with your entrepreneurial journey!

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