Rules for buying cannabis at dispensaries | Turn 420
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Rules for buying cannabis at dispensaries



What is it like to purchase weed in Vermont’s new legal adult retail cannabis market? It’s a very different shopping experience than for other products you’re probably used to buying.

A variety of regulations dictate everything from how product is displayed and handled to who can enter the store.

As of the beginning of October when retail sales began, one dispensary in Burlington — Ceres Collaborative — had obtained its retail license and opened. On its heels, a half dozen locally owned shops across Chittenden County were busy with construction altering their shops to ensure compliance and to provide a welcoming customer experience that would define the way a new product is purchased in Vermont. Many of these retailers were putting the final touches on their stores and had expectations for opening before the end of the year.

What will be different about the marijuana buying experience?

Other types of shopping might allow a customer to browse and touch products on their own, but at cannabis shops, it’s necessary to interact with workers.

Tito Bern is in the process of converting one-third of the Burlington-based glass-blowing shop Bern Gallery into a retail cannabis dispensary and said that’s where a concierge comes in.

“The difference is there will be a concierge there to help you with your needs in a very personal way,” Bern said. He said the concierge would be able to answer questions about terpene concentration for those who may be looking for medicinal applications or help a brand new customer familiarize themselves with the types of products available to meet their needs.

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While samples may be available to sniff, it will be a hands-off experience for the customers until the product is purchased.

Rajive Bhasin is a co-owner of an upcoming Burlington cannabis business yet to be named, with a Church Street location. He said some product will be displayed on product shelves under lock and key, but most of the sellable items will be housed in an adjacent storage room. Once a customer has made a decision about what they’d like to buy, a worker with access to the supply room would retrieve the individually-packaged item and bring it to the register for the customer to purchase.

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What types of cannabis products will you be able to buy?

Once the Bern Gallery’s cannabis sales are open, the store anticipates offering every category of product possible, Bern said. Cannabis flower, pre-rolled joints, edibles, drinkables — yes, there’s a cannabis seltzer, which has faster effects than some edibles — and tinctures are all on the menu.

A consumer is allowed to buy up to one ounce of cannabis flower per day, according to Andrew Subin, an attorney with Vermont Cannabis Solutions.

Some of the products not available for purchase include cannabis flower with more than 30% THC and solid concentrate with more than 60% THC. Flavored oils and flavors in flower that are not naturally occurring will be banned as well as oil products not prepackaged for use with battery powered devices. Products for sale cannot contain both THC and nicotine or alcohol.

What does cannabis cost in Vermont? And what are the taxes on marijuana?

Bern was unable to give a price range for products, suggesting they were at the mercy of their suppliers’ cost structure due to not having a lot of product ready to go immediately. He said prices were anticipated to fluctuate wildly in the beginning until the market settles. He believed the increased competition from other stores entering the market would eventually cause prices to level off, but couldn’t yet venture a guess where they might land.

Tacked onto cannabis sales will be 20% tax made up of 14% in excise taxes and 6% sales tax. A town or city could also charge a 1% local option tax.

What’s the ID requirement to enter Vermont marijuana dispensaries?

Establishments will have someone checking government-issued photo IDs at the door to ensure only customers ages 21 and older may enter and make purchases.

Stores are required to have video surveillance at entry and exits, the point of sale and anywhere the product is stored or handled. Employees must wear an ID badge, and retailers are required to limit the number of customers in the store to the number that can be easily managed by workers. Therefore, customers might find themselves waiting outside the building if all the employees are engaged helping customers.

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What you will see on the packaging of Vermont cannabis products

Before sale, the product will be tested for potency, human pathogens, heavy metals, pesticides and moisture content, when applicable.

Individually-wrapped products will have test result information clearly marked on the packaging.

Using cannabis products on the premises, even for medical reasons, is strictly forbidden. In some cases, you may be able to bring back consumer packaging waste for the store to reuse.

Brandon Coburn of St. Albans holds his purchase - an eighth of an ounce of cannabis flower - Oct. 1, 2022 near the Ceres Collaborative store in Burlington on the first day of retail adult-use cannabis sales in Vermont.

Can you buy cannabis in Vermont with a credit card?

Stores can accept cash for cannabis purchases. While credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard don’t allow direct cannabis purchases with their cards, retailers can get around this by accepting debit cards using a process known as a “cashless ATM” where a debit is withdrawn but the money goes to the retailer, according to Subin. The Bern Gallery plans to use this system.

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What one Vermont dispensary owner expects for the future consumer experience

Bern anticipated that there will a lot of fluidity around how cannabis businesses are set up to start versus what they may evolve to become. He is hoping one day consumption lounges will be permissible.

In addition to adhering to regulations, businesses are taking the time to make buying an event. Bhasin said they are putting a lot of effort into the store experience so it’s not just a cash and carry business. Near the back of the Bern Gallery will be an area with glass-blowing benches where customers will look through a window into an area where cannabis products are being processed — such as joints being rolled or oil being pressed.

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Bern said things are changing day by day and they are working to keep up with all the rules. If all goes according to plan, he’d like to open Bern Gallery’s dispensary by Dec. 1.

Contact reporter April Barton at or 802-660-1854. Follow her on Twitter @aprildbarton.

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