Dear Governor’s Office and members of the House and Senate,
Please extend the appointment process for the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) Nominating Committee for two to three additional weeks. The following concerns are provided to support this request:
- Policy implementation timelines are unrealistic, given the significant, long-term implications for Vermont’s regulated cannabis marketplace;
- Insufficient public engagement and notification of the CCB Nominating Committee appointment process;
- Stakeholder organizations have not had sufficient time to interpret, translate and communicate policy to constituents;
- Constituents are largely unaware of policy framework and have had little opportunity to participate in the process; and
- Constituents and stakeholder organizations’ focus and attention are consumed in an unprecedented election cycle.
We believe that this extension will increase transparency and expand opportunities for citizens to meaningfully engage with the implementation of Act 164 (2020), the Act Relating to the Regulation of Cannabis. We are also confident that this extension, along with the input of impacted communities, will help to ensure that the outcome of the nominating and appointment processes will be more reflective of racial and economic equity, and agricultural access and inclusion.
Throughout the last number of months – and for some of us, over the past few years – we have worked to influence Act 164 to ensure just, inclusive, equitable policy. Throughout this process, many policymakers and lobbyists insisted that they were in support of the improvements our different organizations proposed – however, they preferred to support the current legislation without our amendments, and suggested that once the bill was passed, they would work with us in support of our proposals. This summer, our coalition of racial justice and agricultural organizations decided to openly oppose this bill based on our experiences of lack of inclusion in the process, and our desire for a greater degree of economic and racial equity, criminal justice reform and repair, the successful transition of current legacy market businesses, and agricultural access in the foundation of this legislation. In Governor Scott’s signing statement allowing the legislation to become law, he also emphasized the importance of returning to this legislation in order to achieve the outcomes for which we are advocating.. He specifically cited process and representation concerns, racial equity and repair deficiencies (including citing the Illinois legislation which our coalition partner, the Racial Justice Alliance, proposed), as well as the “inequitable playing field both for our smaller minority and women-owned business applicants, and other small Vermont growers and entrepreneurs.” He concluded his statement by saying, “the Legislature has much more work to do to ensure equity in this new policy”.
As we move forward into the coming legislative session, and the nominating processes prior to the session, we hope to find our organizations, the communities we represent, and our advocacy welcomed at the Statehouse. We hope to find willing partners in the lobbyists and policymakers who spoke of their support for our efforts and willingness to partner with us once the original legislation passed; as well as the Office of the Governor. This partnership starts now with the appointment process for the CCB Nominating Committee. Please extend the deadline for appointments to the CCB Nominating Committee to ensure that this process is both transparent and inclusive.
Our coalition is currently working on proposed legislative language and our platform to amend this legislation and affect the CCB rulemaking process. We look forward to working with you in the interest of making this legislation more representative of, and equitable for, the people living in Vermont who have been harmed by cannabis criminalization and who hope to participate in this industry going forward.
Thank you for the significant time and energy you have committed to your work representing the people of Vermont in such unprecedented times. Though we are not always in agreement on particular issues we certainly share respect and solidarity in our genuine commitment to our work, and to the people we represent. We are available immediately to discuss these matters to increase transparency and expand opportunities for citizens to meaningfully engage with the implementation of Act 164 (2020).
Justice For All
Vermont Racial Justice Alliance
Vermont Growers Association
About the Coalition: We are a coalition of Vermont organizations and businesses representing the diverse communities across the state – from the local BIPOC, agriculture, and environmental communities, law, and criminal justice, to the hemp and cannabis communities – that have come together to forge an inclusive, just, and equitable cannabis platform for Vermont.