While Oct. 1 is the tentative date for adult-use cannabis retailers to launch commercial sales in Vermont, nothing is stopping three licensees from opening their doors earlier if they so choose.

Once businesses have their licenses fully issued—meaning they received local permits where applicable, met any outstanding contingencies on their license and paid associated fees—they may begin operations, Nellie Marvel, outreach and education manager for the Vermont Cannabis Control Board (CCB), told Cannabis Business Times.

There are three businesses that have been approved for retail sales across the state at this point, she said.

RELATED: Vermont Issues First Cannabis Retail Licenses

At its Sept. 14 board meeting, the CCB issued those adult-use retail licenses to Mountain Girl Cannabis in Rutland, FLORA Cannabis in Middlebury, and CeresMED—formerly Champlain Valley Dispensary—an existing medical cannabis operator in South Burlington.

“There’s nothing specifically saying that businesses must wait until Oct. 1 to begin sales, if they’re licensed,” Marvel said. “They may opt to do so, as that’s the date everyone is familiar with, but they do not necessarily have to. Others may opt to wait until the supply chain becomes more established—this is a decision every business owner will have to make for themselves.”

At least one retail licensee plans to launch adult-use sales on Oct. 1, according to VT Digger: FLORA Cannabis.

The four-plus-year buildup to this point includes Gov. Phil Scott signing adult-use legislation in January 2018. The legislation took effect July 1 of that year—allowing those 21 and older to possess limited amounts of cannabis and grow it in their homes—marking the first time any state legislature legalized cannabis for adults through the legislative process rather than by a people’s vote on a ballot measure.

The Vermont Legislature then passed Act 164 in 2020, which established a taxation and regulation system for cannabis. That act also set a timeline for the rollout of the state’s adult-use market with specific dates for various industry licensures. That’s where the Oct. 1, 2022, date to license retailers was established.

While CCB members missed a May 1 deadline to begin issuing adult-use licenses for small cultivators and testing laboratories amidst “staffing shortages” this year, regulators issued the state’s first cannabis cultivation license to an indoor grower in Rutland County on May 16 and three more the following week.

With a roughly six-month timeline for growing, drying and curing, supply for an expanded market may be short of demand from the onset of an adult-use retail launch in Vermont. Nevertheless, three businesses have the green light to open dispensaries, and there’s a possibility of more retail licenses being issued by the CCB at its Sept. 28 meeting.

“It’s also important to underscore that these first licensed retailers don’t represent the end of the road in the journey towards a more sensible regulated cannabis market in Vermont,” Marvel said. “Delays in licensing at the beginning of the process, especially for our outdoor cultivators, means that not everyone was able to participate in the market fully this year. This also means we’re likely to see early supply shortages, which has happened in the initial rollout of each adult-use state as the supply chain continues to develop.”