Action Alert: Advocating For Vermont's MMJ Patients
Posted by Jessilyn Dolan on 13th Apr 2021
While I’m definitely interested in - and generally supportive of - the ongoing work to build a commercial cannabis market in Vermont, my primary allegiance is to medical cannabis - specifically the participants, medical professionals, and caregivers who believe in the power of plant medicine to help patients have safer, happier, healthier lives.
Unfortunately, as the rollout of our regulatory framework continues, there are some deeply concerning developments which threaten the ability of the medical cannabis community to make its needs and concerns known.
Along with their responsibility for rolling out Vermont’s commercial cannabis market, the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) is also taking over the medical marijuana program from the Department of Public Safety (DPS). A 12-member Advisory Board will guide the CCB through that process.
The problem here is that none of the CCB nominees have a medical - or even a cannabis - background. So they will have no understanding of the needs of the medical cannabis community. There is also currently no designated seat on the advisory board for a medical cannabis professional and/or patient..
Up to now, the Marijuana for Symptom Relief Oversight Committee has been the only governing body tasked with looking out for the interests and welfare of the state’s medical cannabis patients, but there are no plans for this committee to continue into 2022.
It is essential that this committee continue as a subcommittee to the CCB to ensure patients voices are heard.
Additionally, as S25 (an act relating to miscellaneous cannabis regulation procedures) makes its way from the Senate to the House, recently added amendments could throw a monkey wrench into the medical cannabis program’s oversight by the CCB and the ensuing adult use market.
If the bill passes as amended, The Vermont Cannabis Trade Association (VCTA), a lobbying group which includes 3 of the 5 for-profit medical dispensaries in the state, will have a 13th permanent, uncontestable seat on the Cannabis Control Board’s advisory board. This is, quite literally, putting profits over patients.
The VCTA does not notably advocate for patients - as evidenced partly by the content on their out-of-date website and blogs. Nor have they, in the 17 years of Vermont’s medical cannabis program, successfully advocated for or implemented any of the many needed changes to the medical cannabis program.
--> It is essential that the 13th seat be designated specifically for a medical professional, appointed by a medical professional. <--
S25 also sets the date the medical program changes hands from DPS to the CCB from May, 2022 to July, 2021. With this, the adult use program would absorb the medical program’s funds, rather than using this money for the betterment of Vermont patients. This is what profits over patients looks like.
--> It is essential that this amendment is removed from S25. <--
Please help medical patients and medical professionals have a voice and support Vermonters. Please contact your legislative representatives and ask them to:
- Designate a 13th seat on the advisory board specifically for a medical professional.
- Strike date changes in S25 for the medical program to be absorbed into the adult use program.
- Ensure the Marijuana for Symptom Relief Oversight Committee continues.
Please use our handy dandy, easy-to-use email template, followed by phone script if you’d like to also make a call!
Your voice and support is needed and appreciated! Thank you!
Photos by Jeff W and Christina Winter on Unsplash