Cannabis retail sales began in Vermont for consumers ages 21 and older on October 1. On the first day of the sales, UVM students and area residents flocked to newly opened Burlington dispensaries for legal weed.
For some, it was a week-long trend, and for others, an opportunity to permanently escape street weed, which is not regulated by the government.
In a survey conducted by the Cynic, a small number of college students over the age of 21 said they would make the switch. Of the 47 survey respondents over the age of 21, only 6.4% said they were considering switching to the legal market.
For now, with little competition in the market and with the few open dispensaries being able to charge what they want, it looks like students looking to buy bud are planning to stick with their local dealers.
However, with weed cultivation in Burlington and UVM subject to change, UVM Living Well Cannabis Counselor Tom Fontana gave some insight into how he sees the opening of dispensaries impacting cultivation. of the campus in the future.
“Nothing has changed much because people under 21 probably won’t use their fake IDs to get downtown, wait in line, and pay taxes where they might not even be there. ‘get it,’ Fontana said. “It’s all about convenience. I think that will change when the market becomes more competitive. »
While the legalization of cannabis is seen as a positive change for many reasons, the retail sale of the drug actually poses new risks for the UVM population. Fontana is concerned about the commercialization of cannabis compared to so many new retailers entering the market, he said.
“The big change we anticipate is commercialization that brings a greater range of potency into products,” Fontana said. “It’s also not easy to be sober around anything on a college campus. It’s difficult for people who use it because cannabis is already a difficult substance to find the right balance.
Thirty businesses in Chittenden County have applied to the Cannabis Control Board for retail licenses as of September 26, according to a September 26 Burlington Free Press article.
With these risks in mind, Fontana mentioned some ways Living Well encourages students to be safe in this age of consumerism.
“We try to promote tolerance breaks and some level of reflection,” Fontana said. “Especially around edibles, knowing the dosage size, even just knowing that 5 milligrams is a single dose and you might be able to have two or three doses like you do with alcohol. But you don’t want 10 doses.
The Ceres Collaborative Clinic opened Oct. 1 at 190 College St., according to an article from the Newsfile of September 29. It’s a stone’s throw from Church Street and nestled around a record store, pub and the Patagonia store. The orange and green logo is sleek and minimalist and blends seamlessly into its surroundings.
At the entrance, a cashier stands in front of a small kiosk decorated with tiny pumpkins to check IDs. The walls are deep green, adorned with faux vines and grass. Shoppers leave the glass doors with their wares in plain paper bags.
Senior Caroline Currey went to Ceres to see what the fuss was about.
“I was really excited to go to a dispensary, and this one is really nice inside,” Currey said. “People were so friendly and helpful […] It looks like a jewelry store in the showroom, everything is in display cases and very well organized. Overall I had a great first experience.
Unfortunately for people looking to switch to dispensaries, higher prices could be a deterrent. The state of Vermont imposes a 14% tax on cannabis sales for recreational purposes, according to the Vermont Tax Department.
“I really noticed the prices were high,” Currey said. “I expected them to be high, but the tax really makes buying buds there not worth it. I would definitely go back, but only for the edibles and carts , because you can’t really get them from a reseller.
Students aged 21 and older who took part in the Cynic survey tended to agree with Currey that the cannabis tax makes a trip to the dispensary not worth it. Seventy percent of students over the age of 21 cited high prices or taxes as the reason they wouldn’t go to dispensaries.
Students who cannot go to dispensaries are already wondering whether or not they will change once they are legally able to.
Along with the under-21 crowd, data from the Cynic survey shows that the majority of students who cannot shop at dispensaries now plan to do so when they come of age.
UVM underclassmen appear to be more concerned about the safety of street weed than their older counterparts, with 70.4% of the 65 students under 21 surveyed saying they plan to switch to security reasons.
Street weed mixed with fentanyl is an ever-present concern in the conversation around the substance, and of the 102 Cynic survey participants, 78.2% said they were afraid of the weed mixed as an influence in their decision-making process.
Fontana says there are ways to test for fentanyl in street-bought weed.
“Kief from the bottom of the grinder is a testable substance,” Fontana said. “There are fentanyl test strips that you can use with this. You only need a small amount to test a whole ounce. It is worth testing.
The opening of dispensaries in Burlington, while exciting, will pose new risks to the UVM community that can be avoided with safe use. However, it remains to be seen whether or not people will be willing to pay the high prices and taxes permanently instead of buying from a reseller.