by Thorolf J. van Walsum
HARDWICK – America’s relationship to marijuana has been one of highs — about 4.7 million pounds of “highs” consumed per year, according to one estimation from GrowersNetwork.org — but it has also been one of lows. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, more than half of all drug arrests in 2010 were made over marijuana and, as of 2019, an estimated 40,000 people were incarcerated on American soil for marijuana offences, according to Forbes magazine.
While Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana in 1973, followed by California’s ground-breaking legalization of medical cannabis in 1996, the question facing Greensboro is whether to allow a recreational marijuana dispensary here in the Northeast Kingdom.
In 2020, the state legalized recreational sales through the passage of Vermont S. 54 — with a few stipulations. Before “adult-use” retail establishments could be opened, the localities in which they would open must first agree to have recreational marijuana dispensaries. Businesses seeking marijuana licensing would then go through a governor-appointed board that gives special consideration to applications that are women/minority owned, environmentally sustainable, and paying their employees a living wage.
Greensboro resident Kelli Story is hoping to be the proud proprietor of one such business. Pending the town of Greensboro’s approval of recreational cannabis retail establishments, she hopes to open Highly Holistic, a recreational dispensary to be situated on Main Street in Greensboro Bend. Story describes her ideal products being baked goods, made fresh in the morning like at any other bakery.
In an interview with Vermont News & Citizen, Story recounted her reasons for belief in medicinal marijuana, based on her struggles with epilepsy. “I’m the lady handing out candies to people with arthritis or people on chemotherapy when I’m helping people who would like to medicate with this as an alternative medicine.”
As the article concludes, Story is filled with ambitious ideas about a wide scope for what a cannabis dispensary could mean for the Greensboro community.
The Gazette spoke with several residents to gauge their thoughts on the issue. on their thoughts. While the sample size was small, none of the respondents were opposed to recreational marijuana or the opening of a recreational dispensary in Greensboro.
One recently-returned Vermonter had this to say: “I am very happy to hear that there may be a cannabis dispensary coming to Greensboro. My husband and I moved back from Colorado three years ago. One of the things we missed the most was being able to go to a dispensary where you can get the type of cannabis for your specific needs. It has been my experience that people can experience the benefits of cannabis more when they can purchase it from someone who can give them that knowledge.”
Another respondent, more critical of the business pitch, wrote the Gazette: “I have no idea why anyone would buy commercial cannabis in Vermont since it is legal to grow on your own. So many people do that you can’t even give it away. Why pay for what you can get for free?”
Until Greensboro’s March Town Meeting vote, where the town will ultimately decide on its stance towards recreational cannabis sales, the wise move may be for Story to analyze her potential competitors. They might appear more neighborly than expected.
[Thor recently moved to Hardwick through the Americorps VISTA Volunteer program, where he’ll be helping manage some ongoing projects of the Northeastern Kingdom Collaborative. You can also come say ‘Hi’ to him at the Jeudevine Memorial Library, where he volunteers on Wednesdays.]