On April 20, 2022

Cannabis fails again in Castleton

By Katy Savage

The question to allow cannabis retailers in Castleton failed for the second time in a revote on Wednesday, April 13.

The article failed 290-275, which was less of a margin than the original vote on Town Meeting Day, when it failed 351-306.

Janet Currie, the former chair of the Castleton Planning Commission, is pushing for another revote in November.

“My phone was blowing up on Thursday morning,” said Currie, who plans to open a retail cannabis shop. “People who voted ‘yes’ twice are very angry. They want to be able to go to a store and buy products that have been vetted.”

Currie is part of the cannabis certification program at Castleton University, which teaches students how to grow and cultivate cannabis. Currie held weekly meetings at the Castleton Fire Department to talk about the safety of cannabis prior to the vote.

“This isn’t just about cannabis, it’s providing jobs, it’s providing opportunities for young individuals to stay in Vermont,” Currie said.

Currie currently grows CBD at her farm in Orwell and has had interns from Castleton University work for her in the past. “That’s why I want it to be in Castleton,” she said.

Currie’s interest in cannabis started in the 1990s, when she was an ovarian cancer researcher at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

“Women were going through horrific situations with chemotherapy and radiation,” Currie said.

“I heard doctors say, ‘if you can get a hold of marijuana, you’re going to feel better.’”

In 2014, Currie’s mother was diagnosed with systemic cancer. Currie started growing her own cannabis to help her mother with appetite suppression issues.

“I really started getting very involved in it and understanding all the aspects of it,” Currie said.

Currie started growing hemp in Orwell the first year it became legal to do so.

She said she is going to focus on a wholesale business, Vermont Cannabis Products, to provide cannabis products to retailers.

Cannabis for medical use became legal in Vermont in May 2004 and legal for recreational use as of July 1, 2018. The Legislature legalized selling of recreational marijuana in 2020, but said Vermont towns have to opt-in through a vote before retail sales can occur. The Cannabis Control Board will begin issuing retail licenses Oct. 1 in towns that have opted in.

Philip Lamy, a sociology and anthropology professor at Castleton University, and a 30-year resident of Castleton, was also disappointed the vote failed.

“Many of us have been surprised it failed to opt-in the first time,” he said.

Lamy is the program coordinator for Castleton University’s cannabis studies certificate program. He, along with Currie, attended an informational meeting prior to the vote and has pushed for its success.

“I think Castleton really stands to benefit from this in terms of job, industry, and creative entrepreneurial work,” Lamy said.

Lamy said he sees opportunities for Castleton to expand its Cannabis Studies Certificate Program (CSCP).

“The benefits would include opportunities for the CSCP to work more closely with local cannabis companies in terms of internships, local expertise to support and inform our program,” Lamy said.

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