Making the Case for Cannabis Delivery
Most Vermonters want to do the right thing right? Whether it’s helping out a neighbor or registering a stranger to vote in an important election, Vermont prides itself on its citizens caring for the well-being of others. Sometimes however, doing what’s right requires us to undergo some change. Vermont is currently undergoing a much needed change, which is the development of a recreational cannabis market. While this is a step in the right direction, the job is not complete.
Cannabis has been weaponized against impoverished communities for generations. We all know this. We also know how lucrative a legal market can be. But doesn’t it feel wrong that there are business owners, many of them white, making huge salaries off legal cannabis while hundreds of thousands of people, many of them black, sit in jails over the same thing? In the face of something so blatantly wrong, we as a community who want to do right, can do something about it.
Vermont NORML and its allies are attempting to do just that. We want to create an avenue of advancement and success for those who have been impacted by the War on Drugs within the cannabis industry. One that doesn’t require 20 years of experience or $250k in the bank. The way we see that is a delivery license available exclusively to social equity applicants.
Why do we need this? In order to do the right thing and foster a values-driven cannabis market, we need ways for people who have historically been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, and therefore lack access to capital and/or specialized knowledge, to enter and succeed in this market. By requiring only a car, a drivers and operating license and insurance this becomes an attractive and attainable entry point for those who may lack highly specialized knowledge and/or capital. By making it available exclusively to Social Equity Applicants for a window of time, it would limit competition by larger, more “well-endowed” players in the market and allow these small businesses to grow. Eventually, they would be able to expand their business into other sectors of the industry and strengthen their business knowledge. This expansion could, in theory, lead to generational wealth that may begin to help repair a fraction of the damage done to affected communities and families.
In addition to supporting small businesses owned and operated by Social Equity Applicants, cannabis delivery would serve the needs of medical patients across the state. Whether a physical or mental disability, many patients cannot access their medicine for the same reason they need cannabis as medicine. Delivery would also serve in the interest of public safety by reducing the number of potentially impaired drivers on the road. While there is no correlation between recreational cannabis and increased rates of impaired driving, it serves as a peace of mind for those who are concerned about this issue. For these reasons and more, it is easy to see why having cannabis delivery is the right thing to do.
A license type such as delivery is critical in a market focused on values over profit. Proponents of recreational cannabis in Vermont have voiced a need to focus on righting the wrongs of the past, and providing an option like delivery is only one way to attempt to level the playing field. A social justice minded delivery license that takes safety and accessibility as a priority is the future of Vermont’s cannabis market.
In conclusion, this license type would offer unparalleled opportunities for someone whose world has been upended by racist and unjust government policies. The opportunity to get in on the ground floor to a multi-million dollar industry. The opportunity to build real generational wealth. The opportunity to, for us all, to do the right thing.
To break it down:
Reduce the illicit market
One of the leading reasons why legislators have supported the legalization of retail cannabis in Vermont is to compete with illicit sales in the state. Regardless of a town’s right to provide retail cannabis, the rollout of storefronts won’t occur rapidly. Vermont consumers in more remote locations of the state will still be burdened with barriers to access. In turn, this will promote the illicit sale of cannabis for the sake of convenience.
Promote generational wealth and social equity in the market
VT NORML takes the strong position that recreational cannabis should serve as a means to begin repairing the immense damages done by the failed War on Drugs.
This can be done when those who were disenfranchised become the owners of the means of production. Millions of people across the United States were disproportionately impacted (through harsh prison sentences, over policing, and drug criminalization) and consequently disenfranchised for generations. To a lesser extent than the national scale, this occurred in Vermont as well. In light of this, both the VT Cannabis Control Board and the National Association of Cannabis Businesses have recommended the need for social equity provisions in the retail cannabis market.
Due to the socioeconomic disparities that resulted from the war on drugs, capital is something not often found among impacted communities and individuals (Black Americans and other “minority” groups). Not coincidentally, capital is something needed in order to start a business of any kind, particularly in the retail cannabis market.
The proposed delivery license addresses lack of industry access and would serve as a low-barrier to market entry option for many entrepreneurs who qualify as Social Equity Applicants. The window of exclusivity for Social Equity Applicants fosters success by limiting competition for marginalized communities.
When federal legalization happens, it’s important that the Vermont market has the ability to stay afloat. It’s no secret that our small state may see trouble when inter-state sale becomes a reality. While that remains to be seen for quite a few more years, it’s important that we move proactively, not retroactively, in order to maintain a prosperous route of revenue in-state.
One proactive way to proceed is through brand loyalty. With delivery as an option, consumers are able to reach their brand(s) of choice without leaving their homes. Regularly buying from the same store(s) becomes much easier when it’s delivered to your door with the click of a button.
Many in the Vermont legislature have voiced concern over the issue of public safety in the retail cannabis market. The thought is that when stores open, there will be an increase in traffic accidents due to impaired drivers.
Although this fear has been widely discussed and disputed (there is no evidence that suggests an increase in automobile accidents in legal states), the idea behind a delivery option is that it reduces the potential for consumers to drive impaired because they don’t have to drive to get what they need.
With an option for delivery, there is no reason anyone should be driving under the influence of cannabis.