Brian Maynard didn’t wait for the Sun to tell him what time to get up Saturday. At 6:30 a.m., the Burlington resident lined up outside the Ceres Collaborative store on College Street to be the store’s first customer on the first day of retail sales of adult-use marijuana in Vermont.
“Things are changing, things are good. The time has come,” said Maynard, about the first 15 minutes after the store let its first six customers, including Maynard, stroll through the store after about 10 a.m. Saturday. “It’s nice to go to the local market instead of the back alley.”
Vermont has a tradition of being tolerant of marijuana use, and many weed consumers already have local dealers or grow their own potted plants, especially since the state allowed limited cultivation and possession of marijuana in 2018. But consumers were still ready to buy retail weed For the first time, a line of several hundred people stretched from a corner storefront down an alley to The Daily Planet restaurant on Center Street.
Brandon Coburn, St. Albans, stood on that line and walked out of the store with an eighth-ounce pack of marijuana, “It’s as much trouble as I had when I was 18,” He says. He’s not sure if he’ll go back to the retail store next time — $70 is about double what Coburn says he usually pays — but Saturday’s purchase felt like a defense of his 18-year-old self.
“I had to do it once,” he said of his legal retail trips.
Historic day in Vermont
The line at Ceres — the only store in Chittenden County licensed to sell adult-use cannabis and one of the few in Vermont to date — is long but quiet. Ceres staff lined up to let people know they needed to show ID when entering the store, but things were calm and orderly. There was no police presence and no traffic jams.
The day feels historic and not a big deal at the same time.
“It’s just a high point across the state. It’s really exciting to be ready and serving guests,” said Russ Todia, chief operating officer of Ceres Collaborative, as he stood in the store a few minutes before the store opened.
What is legal?Breaking Vermont’s recreational marijuana laws.
According to Todia, Ceres has been in the business for about a decade to meet the needs of medical marijuana customers, and a proven infrastructure has helped the company grow smoothly. Ceres grows its own cannabis, which makes sense from its name—Ceres was the ancient Roman goddess of agriculture, and her likeness towers over the golden dome of the Vermont State Capitol in Montpellier.
Standing next to a mural inside the Ceres Collaborative that reads “The Power of Plants,” Todia talks about wanting cannabis to become a more acceptable part of society.
“Cannabis should be normalized like alcohol,” he said. Todia expects Ceres’ customers to include locals, tourists and college students who are 21 or older, the legal age for adult marijuana use. Todia expects that some customers have no source of purchases in what he calls pre-retail “traditional” markets, and he also wants to know the average user whose products they consume have been tested and safe.
Store employees stand near glass cases displaying loose cannabis flowers and edible products containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Staff and labels next to items in display cases explain details such as the type of cannabis and the amount of THC in each product.
Vermont weed, bear collide
Some of the people in the line came from states that don’t allow retail adult-use marijuana sales. Around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Erica Deuso, a South Burlington native who now lives in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and Marcus Lou, who lives in Lexington, South Carolina but recently purchased land in Randolph. Marcus Lucas stood side by side at the back of the line.
A native of Vermont, Deuso says she’s used to the idea of lining up to get the latest major craft beer release from one of the state’s world-renowned brewers. “I don’t even know if I’m going to buy anything, but I’m just curious,” said Deuso, who was visiting his uncle in Vermont.
Lucas was more certain when asked if he would buy anything at Ceres. “Oh, I am,” he said. He was in the market for pre-rolled joints and wanted to explore different varieties of adult-use marijuana in the store.
tomorrow:Nearly 70 Vermont towns have opted to allow retail marijuana. Here is where.
Menard, who was first in line on Saturday morning, said he expected to buy about $100 in cannabis flower and maybe some edible products. He plans to enjoy his purchases while drinking Sip of Sunshine, an Indian pale ale brewed by Waitsfield-based Lawson’s Finest Liquids that incorporates a deeply entrenched and thriving part of Vermont’s adult entertainment industry.
Contact Brent Hallenbeck at email@example.com.Follow Brent on Twitter www.twitter.com/BrentHallenbeck.