Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jan 2012
Source: Burlington Free Press (VT)
Copyright: 2012 Burlington Free Press
Author: Terri Hallenbeck


MONTPELIER -- Vermont's first medical marijuana dispensaries might be
slightly delayed by Tropical Storm Irene but could begin to pop up as
early as this summer.

A law that passed last year authorized up to four privately run
dispensaries, putting the job of creating rules for them in the hands
of the state Public Safety Department.

Those rules should be ready in the next couple of weeks, Francis
Aumand, director of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, told
the Senate Government Operations Committee on Wednesday.

Because of the state's procedures for vetting those rules, Aumand said
he wasn't sure he could meet a June 2 deadline for issuing
certificates to applicants interested in running dispensaries, but
that it shouldn't take much longer than that. Flooding from Tropical
Storm Irene at the department's offices in Waterbury delayed work on
the project by about eight weeks, he said.

Legislators who pushed for the dispensaries weren't complaining.
Senate Government Operations Chairwoman Jeanette White, D-Windham,
said advocates she's heard from have been pleasantly surprised by the
state's responsiveness. She said she did not want to rush the
rule-making process, which allows legislators and the public to weigh

Aumand said how quickly a dispensary could open depends on the
applicants and how quickly they can grow the marijuana or acquire it
from some other way. Though it will be legal for a dispensary to have
and sell marijuana to Vemonters on the medical marijuana registry, it
would still be illegal for the owner to buy it from another producer.

Aumand said he's heard from several people interested in running a
dispensary, selling marijuana to Vermonters on the medical marijuana
registry. He said authorities in Maine warned him, however, that they
had people apply to open a dispensary and then back out.

Vermont has 411 patients and 68 caregivers on the medical marijuana
registry, which allows them state permission to grow enough for their
own use. The dispensaries are designed to give patients who can't grow
the drug another legal means of acquiring it.

Marijuana possession and use remains illegal under federal law even
for those on the registry. 
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