Middlebury gives preliminary OK to medical marijuana dispensary

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Development Review Board (DRB) has given a preliminary OK to a medical marijuana dispensary on Route 7 South.
Applicants will now fine-tune their proposal based on feedback they received from DRB members at their Nov. 27 meeting. The dispensary could earn a final go-ahead at either the DRB’s Jan. 8 or Jan. 22 meetings.
Brandon already has a medical marijuana dispensary.
Champlain Valley Dispensary (CVD) is seeking town approval to open a new site in the former home of Planned Parenthood at 1641 Route 7 South. CVD currently supplies around 3,000 qualifying patients with medical marijuana through its dispensaries in Burlington, Milton and Brattleboro. As with its other locations, CVD would keep marijuana inventory locked up at the Middlebury dispensary.
Its operations would be monitored by he Vermont Department of Public Safety. It would only serve clients pre-approved by the state to receive medical marijuana as part of their treatment for a chronic disease.
Shayne Lynn, executive director of CVD, tabbed the currently-vacant building at 1641 Route 7 South as an idea spot for a new dispensary because it would be easy for patients to find. It also meets the state-mandated criteria that it be at least 1,000 feet away from a nursery, child care facility or school.
“We appreciate the Town of Middlebury’s cooperation in working to help ensure that patients in Addison County have access to marijuana to help alleviate suffering from the variety of illnesses covered by Vermont law,” Lynn said on Thursday of the DRB’s positive first review of the Middlebury dispensary. “We look forward to being a partner in this process and providing all the necessary education and information to the community and patients about the work done by the dedicated employees of Champlain Valley Dispensary,”
Lynn has said a Middlebury dispensary would be more convenient for Addison County patients, who must now travel to Burlington.
There are currently around 5,500 patients enrolled with the Vermont Marijuana Registry, including 233 in Addison County, according to the Department of Public Safety.
CVD was facing a potential hurdle as it prepared for the Nov. 27 DRB meeting.
Middlebury’s zoning regulations, currently being updated, don’t reference the option of a “medical marijuana dispensary.” That meant CVD had to pitch the dispensary as a “retail” establishment that could then be approved as a conditional use in the town’s Protected Highway District of Route 7 South.
And CVD officials have successfully made that argument — thanks to the company’s side-venture, Ceres Natural Remedies, which offers an over-the-counter option for pain relief. Ceres offers an array of Cannibidol-related products — derived from hemp and cannabis — that ease pain without the “high” imparted by marijuana. Lynn explained Cannibidol products don’t possess enough tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to be considered a regulated drug. So it can be legally sold to anyone 18 and older, usually in the form of a capsule or trans-dermal patch.
CVD’s Burlington dispensary sees around 20 to 30 Ceres customers per day, and many of them are also medical marijuana patients, according to Lynn.
Plans call for Ceres Natural Remedies products to be sold at the Middlebury dispensary. Middlebury DRB members agreed on Nov. 27 that sales of that product could allow the dispensary to qualify as a retail establishment, and thus meet the conditional use criteria in the Protected Highway District.
The dispensary would not sell any marijuana paraphernalia, though it might offer vaporizers, according to CVD officials.
Efforts continue in the Vermont Legislature to pass a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana. If such a bill was passed into law, CVD would need to return to the DRB for a permit amendment in order to sell recreational marijuana, officials said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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