Vermont Marijuana Convention: A Deep History Of Healing And Entrepreneurship

Photo Credit: Nicole Higgins Desmet

Life-changing personal stories were the driving force behind Vermont’s first cannabinoid  entrepreneurs at the first cannabis and hemp convention in South Burlington on Saturday.

“I have a sister who has a seizure disorder, so I really got interested in CBD in 2015 when the farm bill was enacted in Vermont,” Kyle Gruter-Curham said at his booth at the back the DoubleTree Hilton’s convention room.

Gruter-Curham is the owner of Creek Valley Cannabidoil in Irasburg. He launched his organic product line including vapor pen cartridges, CBD-infused Komucha tea, and CBD coconut oil last spring.

CBD-infused edible products were abundant at the convention hosted in part by Heady Vermont, a cannabis legalization advocacy group. Folks like Richard Porter and his wife, who sampled Luce Farm’s CBD-infused honey, drove three hours from Wilmington to get tips about growing their own hemp and marijuana and also shop for products.

“It almost eliminates all my shaking and the other thing it does is help me sleep at night. Sleep is so important to Parkinson’s,” Porter explained he uses a mix of edibles and a vapor pen to modify his symptoms from the neurological disease that keeps him in a wheelchair.

Women leaders

Further down the back row of booths, Gyan Devi, of Body Botanicals in Burlington, was selling a salve to a couple made of St. John’s Wort and CBD oil. She said could help ease pain from arthritis. Devi said she’d been making herbal remedies for 25 years, but was launching her new line of CBD-infused products at the convention inspired by her own condition: migraines.

Photo Credit: Nicole Higgins Desmet

Devi was also hoping to see other women get involved and stay at the top in the industry as entrepreneurs as Vermont moves toward deregulation.

The number of women holding executive positions in the cannabis industry fell 9 percentage points from 36 percent in 2015 to 26.9 percent in 2017. It’s still almost four percentage points higher than the average of other U.S. businesses, according to a Marijuana Business Daily survey.

Women took the lead in the business panel about how to market yourself and get that first job in the cannabis industry.

Beth Waterfall of ELEVATE New England, an education and advocacy group promoting business cannabis entrepreneurs, moderated a panel about how to market yourself and get that first job in the cannabis industry.

“There are nearly 15,000 cannabis industry jobs on,” Waterfall said. Explaining that the industry doesn’t just need growers, it needs accountants, doctors and business school graduates.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student Katie Walker of Hudson, New York, was listening and taking notes. She said she is in the planning stages of her future business and was at the convention to learn and network.

Full legalization

But Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, who was covering crops Friday ahead of a frost after a long extended legislative session in Montpelier, thinks the time will be ripe early next year to make the transition to a full buy and grow weed industry.

“The general sense that I have is that many people will be ready to move forward come January for a lot of reasons,” Zuckerman said. “Many legislators who have been tepid on rapid motion forward recognizance that the momentum is building and the people want this to happen.”

Zuckerman added the work of Gov. Phil Scott’s commission studying marijuana legalization would be completed in December.

“Our state continues to look for economic opportunities and ways to attract 25 to 40-year-olds to the state. And I just see legalization as doing both of those things in a way that some people have no idea is possible,” Zuckerman said.

But Zuckerman wanted to be clear that he understood how hard it was for some people like teachers and doctors to be public about their support. He said it was that stigma which made it impossible for some legislators to gauge just how many constituents fully support legalization.

The Lt. Gov will be speaking at the convention at 1 p.m. on Sunday, with a series of other business and cultivation experts.

The Law

Full legalization is still in the works, but come July 1, some residents will be able to grow for private use.

Expungement day

If you have a pot misdemeanor issued in Chittenden or Windsor counties, you are in luck. You can get your record scrubbed clean of a conviction of misdemeanor marijuana possession.

This does not apply to felony-level offenses, convictions for sale of marijuana, according to a report by SevenDaysVT.

Windsor and Chittenden County state’s attorneys have agreed to support the expungement of all old misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses within Windsor and Chittenden counties, according to a joint statement by Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George and Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill.

Windsor County convictions will be swept away with on Saturday, June 9 and Chittenden County convictions will come clean on Tuesday, June 12. But you have to fill out a petition. It’s not automatic.

Other Classes

A farm-based, ecological design immersion program is launching at Willow Crossing Farm begins July 22. There are some scholarships available for eligible Vermonters.