Cannabis conference highlights opportunities

Photo courtesy of Sam Reiver
Vermont LT. Gov David Zuckerman moderates the Cannabis Studies conference held at Castleton University. 

Castleton University held its first cannabis studies conference on Sept. 13, produced by members of the Cannabis Certificate program, which is new to the curriculum this year.

The purpose was to have an open discussion of all things involving Vermont cannabis, organizers said. Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, was the keynote speaker leading  the discussion.

“It’s not going to change the world to change our laws, but it’s remarkable how many different aspects of our lives, our culture, and our society that this plant has the opportunity to adjust,” he said.

The other panelists throughout the day included Tim Fair and Andrew Subin of Vermont Cannabis Solutions, Eli Harrington co-founder of Heady Vermont, Tyler Jones Northeast Hemp Commodities, Tim Lutts, a Cabot Marijuana investor, and Devan Walsh from Grassroots Vermont: Medical Cannabis Dispensary.

The topics covered included new job opportunities, how legalization will develop in the future and tourism taking a hit because of the lack of recreational dispensaries in the state. Panel members spoke about tourism and the possibility of a cannabis lodging license being available for Airbnb’s and hotels alike. This would bring in out-of-staters to Vermont to buy and use cannabis.

Tourists are stopping in the other legal states in New England to buy their cannabis before continuing up to Vermont for their vacation, panelists said.

There was also much talk of not wanting to rush the process of pushing through new laws, making sure that we do this the ‘Vermont way,’ panelists said. Looking at what other states have done as an example, Vermont wants to put the power in the hands of the little farmer and not the giant seller. The idea is to do the same with cannabis farms as the state has done with the microbrewery business. A few farms that really care about the plant they’re growing.

Vermont wants to keep the artisan factor in their cannabis, this is what it has always been known for in the illicit market.

A handful of micro farms sprinkled across the counties will keep Vermont’s reputation intact and allow these farms to thrive. The farmers will want to make the best product available to compete with the others farms.

“A lot of the reason that we were able to get beer culture here was because you had a bunch of small producers that could all compete,” said Eli Harrington, Co-founder of Heady Vermont.

With a limit on how big these farms can be there is no chance of a monopoly or giant corporation forming and taking over the market.

Sixty students will have the opportunity to get a head start in the industry with the completion of the designated courses though Castleton’s certificate program.

Phil Lamy, director of the cannabis studies program, said Humans have been using cannabis in multiple facets of life more than 12,000 years. The prohibition of the once promising cash crop has led to many innocent people being judged and criminalized for enjoying a plant that our species has co-evolved with, he said.

“Cannabis is not new, it’s just newly discovered. It’s like Columbus discovering the new world, it was always there but we just rediscovered it.” Lamy said.

The conference also included a cannabis cooking demonstration from the executive chef of The Lewi Group, Joe Lewi. Lewi showed the audience how to easily mix CBD into lemonade, Mac n Cheese and an eggplant side dish. CBD is the main chemical found in the hemp plant, and it’s shown to be a very effective to reduce anxiety, ease inflammation, and ease aches and pains. Cooking it into your food is an easy way to slip it into your diet and help with any problems you may be having, he said. The day ended with networking and live music from the reggae band, Dub Perpetual, at Third Place Pizzeria.



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