Vermont begins accepting marijuana retail licenses ahead of legal sales

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Vermont's Cannabis Control Board continues to accept applications from those seeking as businesses prepare to set up shop.

BURLINGTON, Vt. - We're just 8 weeks away from the scheduled launch of Vermont's recreational marijuana marketplace.

As Vermont's Cannabis Control Board continues to accept applications from those seeking retail marijuana licenses, businesses in the area said they are ready to set up shop.

The Bern Gallery Smoke Shop has been in business for nearly 20 years, offering customers glass-blowing lessons and selling CBD products and other related items.

After voters approved the sale of retail cannabis in the city, Tito Bern was excited to expand his business in the developing market alongside others like him.

"This industry is still very young and we're definitely still at the point where we all need each other. There's a lot of great networking going on behind the scenes," he said. "So far you haven't really felt that competitive nature coming to the surface yet, but I'm sure it's there.

Bern said that while the process has been challenging to navigate, his team has stayed the course since the process began.

"Coming into this highly-regulated market we're having to answer a lot of questions that you don't have to answer if you're just opening a business. [We have to] explain each process of what we'll be doing," Bern said.

James Pepper, Chair of Vermont's Cannabis Control Board, said applications have been rolling in since Wednesday, a month earlier than the anticipated September submission date.

Pepper said applicants have to understand the process does not end with license approval.

"A business, before it's able to open its doors to the public, has about three or four other jurisdictional hoops that they need to jump through, so we wanted to get our retail applications in so we could approve them as early as possible," he said.

Applications will continue to be reviewed by the board in the coming weeks as recreational sales are set to begin on Oct. 1.

"We've been preparing for this for months and months and years and what feel like our whole life so we're ready," Bern said.

Bern said that while the industry may be young in Vermont, he is excited about the new networking possibilities and the expansion of retail cannabis throughout the green mountain state.

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