This past summer, AroMed store owner Lauren Andrews leased a Montpelier Main Street storefront from which to sell cannabis — as soon as her application gets approved. Andrews said her daughter will be the general manager, and Andrews will move her aromatherapy/CBD shop (AroMed) from its location on State Street to a spot next door to the cannabis shop.
The question is, when will her retail cannabis license get approved? This she does not know and has had no indication from the Vermont Cannabis Control Board. However, Andrews is confident she will get approved, since she has the credentials and experience needed. “I’ve been doing retail for seven, eight years, and I am a known entity,” Andrews told The Bridge Sept. 22. She has received a lot of support from the local community — especially support for the fact that such a store will be run by a known, local person. Additionally, Andrews notes her background is in healthcare, which adds to her credibility. She is a registered nurse, a clinical aromatherapist, and a graduate of the University of Vermont’s cannabis science and medicine program. She has also had her attorney look over the application, and was assured it looks great.
Andrews is not first in line for approval, since the control board has said they will give priority to people who qualify as those needing “social equity” consideration. Cannabis license applicants who qualify for this category include people who are black, Hispanic, and have been incarcerated or had a family member incarcerated for a cannabis-related incident, according to ccb.vermont.gov. Additionally, priority in this category will be given to people “from a community that has historically been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition and are able to demonstrate to the board that they were personally harmed by that impact.” Andrews does not fall under this category.
But she does fall under the next priority level called “economic empowerment businesses.” This category includes women, veterans, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, First Nation/Indigenous/Native Americans, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and “other people not explicitly named in the “social equity” group.
As a female business owner, Andrews thinks she will be in an imminent batch of approvals. “Female leadership in this business is only about 21% … dismal. Many consumers choose to support women-owned businesses, cannabis businesses included. A time when the rights of women are under attack just magnifies the resolve of many to support women in business,” Andrews wrote.
To prepare for her new venture, Andrews traveled to dozens of dispensaries on the West Coast, Maine, and other areas, and observed how they all have different personalities. Visiting those places helped her develop her own mission, which is to make a “commitment to honor the skill and integrity of small, artisanal growers.” She wants to sell products to improve the quality of people’s lives. She will have products for “canna-curious” as well as experienced users who want high-quality marijuana. Andrews did not want to get into the specifics of what products she would sell nor where she would get them.
She is leasing the property from Jesse Jacobs, who she said has been very supportive of her plans. She hired Chadd Besaw to do the woodwork in the interior and to create a warm and inviting place. Besaw, working in the storefront on Sept. 24, showed The Bridge the wooden counters he is creating. He has worked 300 hours since first starting on July 8, he said. The wood he is using includes birch, pine, maple, and cherry.
And, regarding her plans to locate AroMed right next to, but in the same address as Capital Cannabis relates to age restrictions. Customers seeking to purchase retail marijuana must be 21 or over, where those buying CBD oil or aromatherapy — such as she sells at AroMed — can be any age.
The Bridge reached out to Montpelier Alive for comment, but new interim director Katie Trautz said she did not have enough information to comment, but “I will be keeping my eye on how things are going and what it means for our lovely town.”
Andrews praised Montpelier as well, saying, “We have an amazing downtown and this will give it one more reason for people to shop, (have a meal), and spend their time downtown.”
Washington County Cannabis Cultivators, and Wholesaler Approved
Those who are selling cannabis in Vermont need to get it from businesses in Vermont because it is against federal law to transport marijuana across state lines. Many Vermont-owned pot growing operations have stepped in to provide marijuana to those who want to sell it, including in Washington County. Cultivators are broken into three categories of indoor, outdoor, and mixed, according to ccb.vermont.gov.
Washington County has had 14 local cultivators approved, largely in East Calais (five: two outdoor, two mixed, and one wholesaler), Plainfield (four: two outdoor, one indoor, and one mixed), Worcester (three: two mixed and one indoor), Calais (one, mixed), and Middlesex (one, outdoor).