â€‹Vermont’s first medical marijuana dispensaries could be slightly delayed by Tropical Storm Irene, but are expected to begin to open this summer.
A law passed last year
authorized up to four privately run cannabis dispensaries, and gave the state Public Safety Department the authority to create rules for them, reports Terri Hallenbeck at the Burlington Free Press.
Those rules should be ready in the next couple of weeks, according to testimony from Francis Aumand, director of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, to the Senate Government Operations Committee on Wednesday.
Aumand said he wasn’t sure he could make a June 2 deadline for issuing certificates to applicants interested in running the dispensaries, because of Vermont’s procedures for vetting those rules. However, he said it shouldn’t take “much longer” than that.
Flooding from Tropical Storm Irene at the Public Safety Department’s offices in Waterbury delayed the project by about eight weeks, Aumand said.
|Glenn Callahan/Stowe Reporter|
|Francis Aumand, the director of Vermont’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, said he couldn’t meet a June 2 deadline for issuing certificates to applicants interested in running dispensaries, but that it shouldn’t take much longer than that|
â€‹Legislators who pushed for the marijuana dispensaries didn’t complain. Senate Government Operations Chairwoman Jeaneette White (D-Windham) said advocates she’s heard from have expressed surprise at the state’s responsiveness. (Maybe they’ve been looking at neighboring New Jersey, where foot-dragging by the administration of Republican Gov. Chris Christie still hasn’t gotten any legal marijuana into patients’ hands,Â two yearsÂ after the Garden State passed its medicinal cannabis law.)
Sen. White said she didn’t want to rush the rule making process, which allows legislators and the public to weigh in.
How quickly a dispensary can open depends on the applicants and how quickly they grow or acquire the marijuana, according to Aumand. Though it will be legal for a dispensary to have and sell marijuana to Vermonters on the patient registry, it will still be illegal for the owner to buy it from another producer.
Several people have expressed interest in running a dispensary, according to Aumand. He said authorities in Maine have warned him, however, that they had several people apply to open a dispensary, only to back out later.
Vermont has 411 patients and 68 caregivers on its medical marijuana registry; patients are allowed to grow for their own use. The dispensaries are intended to give safe, legal access to patients who can’t grow their own cannabis.
Marijuana possession and use for any reason remains illegal under federal law, even for those on the Vermont registry.