Can’t Get No Fed Aid: Floods Be Messin’ with Vermont’s Weed Biz

Can't Get No Fed Aid: Floods Be Messin' with Vermont's Weed Biz

Yo, peeps! It’s ya boy Dan comin’ at ya with some news from the east coast and the west coast. So check it, while the west coast is gettin’ ready to sweat their butts off in the summer heatwave, the east coast is drownin’ in heavy rain. And let me tell you, it ain’t lookin’ too good for the cannabis businesses out in Monteplier, Vermont, ya feel me?

So, this chick named Lauren Andrews, who owns Capital Cannabis on Main Street, had to spend a whole lotta days cleanin’ up her dispensary after the floods hit. She was hopin’ to reopen on July 17, but when she got back to her place, she found out there was a leak that messed up her walls and floors. She told the news outlet, “We gotta start all over again, man.”

But wait, it gets worse. July 17 was also the day that cannabis business owners found out they ain’t gettin’ no federal aid. Nah, fam, that money’s goin’ to other businesses that got hit by the floods. Why? Well, according to Carl Dombek, who’s a public information officer for the Small Business Administration, they gotta follow federal law. And since cannabis ain’t legal on a federal level, they can’t give money to no dispensaries.

And get this, if a cannabis business already got some FEMA Small Business Program help, they can’t even get this federal aid. It’s like they’re double screwed or somethin’. Even if Vermont Gov. Phil Scott asks for help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it still won’t help out the cannabis farmers. They won’t be able to get federal crop insurance or nothin’, according to some dude from the USDA Farm Service Agency.

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But hey, here’s a little silver linin’. If people workin’ in the cannabis industry lose their jobs ’cause of the floods, they can still get unemployment benefits. Yeah, that’s a state thing, not a federal one. So at least they got that goin’ for ’em.

Now, don’t get it twisted. The whole state of Vermont ain’t goin’ down the drain. But James Pepper, who’s the chair of the Cannabis Control Board, says they still need some help. He says these businesses are already livin’ on the edge, man. They don’t got no outlet or pressure-release valve in the cannabis industry. So when somethin’ bad happens like this flood, it can mess up the whole industry, yo.

And Andrews agrees. She says it’s a tight-knit community, man. When one business goes down, it hurts everyone. We gotta stick together, ya know?

Now here’s somethin’ interesting. Unlike other stuff that gets grown in Vermont, cannabis growers don’t really know how to deal with damage from floods. It’s like a whole new ballgame for them. Pepper says they don’t even consider cannabis an agricultural product, but it grows in the ground like any other crop. So they gonna use some tips from the Agency of Agriculture to deal with this mess.

These cannabis growin’ farms gotta watch out for wastewater contamination and keep an eye on their crops for any water-related problems like bud rot. It’s gonna be a struggle, man.

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Geoffrey Pizzutillo, who’s the co-founder and executive director of the Vermont Growers Association, is tryna figure out how much damage was done to these cannabis businesses across the state. He’s passin’ out forms so people can report what happened. He says it ain’t lookin’ good for all types of businesses, not just the outdoor farmers but also the retailers and manufacturers.

Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, came to Vermont after the floods calmed down. He compared the scene to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene back in 2011. He said it’s urgent to help these communities and let ’em know that the federal government got their back. He wants ’em to know that resources are comin’.

So here’s the deal. While cannabis businesses in Vermont ain’t gettin’ no federal aid, Pizzutillo and others are tryna gather all the info they can about the damage. They wanna make sure these businesses can at least get some emergency state funding. They hopin’ a special legislative session can approve it. Pepper says they gotta collect all that data and present it to the Legislature. Then they gotta see if they got the political will to help out these businesses that got hit hard.

Now, just a lil’ reminder, recreational cannabis became legal in Vermont back in 2020, but sales didn’t start until two years later. And since then, they been makin’ bank, man! In just three months, they made $2.6 million from sales. And by May 2023, they racked up a cool $24 million. That’s some serious cash flow!

So that’s the scoop, homies. Cannabis businesses in Vermont ain’t gettin’ no federal aid after the floods hit. It’s rough out there for ’em. But they still hopin’ for some state help to get back on their feet. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for ’em and show some support, ya feel me? Peace out!

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