In the aftermath of last week’s devastating floods that wreaked havoc on Vermont, cannabis cultivators, retailers, and manufacturers find themselves unable to access federal aid despite suffering significant losses.
According to VTDigger, this is due to marijuana’s continued illegality under federal law, which disqualifies cannabis businesses from receiving assistance through all Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) business programs.
Vermont Cannabis Industry Struggles to Recover from Flood Damage
Vermont cannabis businesses are facing a tough challenge in the wake of recent floods that ravaged parts of the state. The floods, caused by heavy rains and a dam breach, damaged several cannabis cultivation facilities, dispensaries, and CBD shops in Montpelier and other areas. The losses are estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
While other businesses affected by the floods can apply for federal aid, Vermont cannabis businesses are not eligible due to the federal prohibition of cannabis. This leaves them with limited options to rebuild and recover from the disaster.
Todd Bailey, Executive Director of the Cannabis Retail Association of Vermont (CRAV), told the Bennington Banner that “there’s a robust cannabis industry in Vermont, and many of those businesses will need financial assistance.” He added that “these are businesses owned by Vermonters, which employ thousands of additional Vermont residents.”1
CRAV is working with Capstone Community Action, a non-profit organization, to raise funds and provide support for the Vermont cannabis industry. They have launched a recovery fund that accepts donations from the public and ensures their tax-deductible status. Bailey said that “unlike legacy businesses, our industry won’t likely have access to federal aid, so they need support from the public even more so than others.”
The recovery fund is also exploring ways to include cannabis businesses among the recipients of aid, despite the legal complications. Bailey said that “we’re working with Capstone to figure out how we can help these businesses without running afoul of any federal laws or regulations.”
The Vermont cannabis industry is a vital part of the state’s economy and culture. According to a report by Marijuana Business Daily, Vermont’s medical and recreational cannabis sales are projected to reach $175 million to $225 million by 2024. The industry also provides jobs, tax revenue, and social benefits for the state.2
However, the recent floods have exposed the vulnerability and uncertainty of the Vermont cannabis industry in the face of natural disasters and federal prohibition. Without adequate financial assistance and legal protection, many cannabis businesses may not survive or recover from the flood damage.
The Vermont cannabis community is resilient and determined to overcome this challenge. As Bailey said, “we’re not going to let this stop us. We’re going to rebuild and come back stronger than ever.”
Some of the Vermont cannabis businesses that have been affected by the floods include:
Capital Cannabis: A retail store in Montpelier that sells CBD products and accessories. The store was flooded twice: once by the river water and once by a water leak upstairs. The owner, Lauren Andrews, said that she would have to gut the place and start from scratch.34
Stormy Acre Farms: A cultivation facility in Johnson that grows 315 plants in a greenhouse next to the Lamoille River. The owner, Ashley Sorrentino, said that most of her plants were still standing after the flood, but she would have to test them for contamination before selling them.3
Green State Gardener: A retail store in Burlington that sells CBD products, seeds, clones, and gardening supplies. The store was flooded by several inches of water that damaged some of their inventory and equipment.5
Zenbarn Farms: A cultivation facility in Waterbury Center that grows 500 plants in an indoor warehouse. The facility was flooded by about four feet of water that destroyed most of their crop.5
Green Mountain Hemp Company: A CBD manufacturer and retailer in St. Albans that produces tinctures, salves, gummies, and pet products. The company was flooded by about two feet of water that damaged their machinery and inventory.5
These are just some examples of the many Vermont cannabis businesses that have been impacted by the floods. They represent a diverse and growing sector of the state’s economy that deserves recognition and support.
If you want to help these businesses recover from this disaster, you can donate to the recovery fund here. You can also support them by buying their products online or at their physical locations (if they are open). By doing so, you will not only help them rebuild their livelihoods, but also contribute to the development and success of the Vermont cannabis industry.