Despite the Chester Selectboard’s decision not to put the retail cannabis opt-in vote on the town meeting ballot, the board once again discussed the issue in their Feb. 2 meeting after a local resident petitioned for its inclusion.
For the last two voting years the Chester Selectboard has kicked the retail cannabis vote down the road citing lack of information.
So Chester resident and businessman Scott Blair went out and did something.Moved by the further procrastination of the board in the last month to call a referendum, Blair sought signatures from 5 percent of Chester voters to get the retail cannabis option on Act 164 put on the voting ballot for this year’s Town Meeting.
Blair said it didn’t take long to gather signatures for the item to be added to the ballot.
“It took me less than a week,” Blair said in an interview with the Eagle Times. “At the last selectboard meeting I attended, the selectboard decided to push it down the line and not to act on it immediately. So I addressed them saying, ‘‘I know my rights as a citizen and that I can make a petition to put on the town vote with 5 percent of the town voters.’”
The 34-year-old said he has bent over backwards to help the selectboard understand his position and it is now time to step it and take citizen action.
“For a year and a half I have been trying to cooperate and collaborate with the town so this could be something that the town could take credit for actually being proactive about,” Blair said. “I have given them presentations and approached them multiple times about it and they had the same answers: ‘I don’t have enough information’ or ‘We don’t feel comfortable with that.’”
The board now wants to get as much information as possible out there before the vote so Chester residents can make an informed decision, according to Board Chair Arne Jonynas.
Blair, who owns the Southern Pie Café and a cannabidiol (CBD) shop of his own, said that CBD has been a therapeutically groundbreaking tool for his mental and physical well being.
“The relationship I have with CBD is that I have bipolar I disorder and the doctors wanted to put me on medication that would sedate me and kind of put me in a fog. They told me I could go on disability, which I was way too young to go on, in my opinion, so I wanted to take a more natural approach,” he said. “So I did a lot of research and studied CBD for mood disorders.”Blair said the freedom of mental clarity was a game changer for him in his search for an answer to his mental health challenges. He also noted that CBD was just as effective in relieving physical and muscular inflammation in his body whereas over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin had long-term physical caveats when used regularly.
“It worked out great for me and I didn’t have to take any regular medication. Traditional medication is a single dose and CBD was something I could use throughout the day,” Blair said. “I have also taken Ibuprofen a lot for inflammation and it was actually starting to affect my stomach, my gut and my liver. For me it was my natural approach to take care of my illnesses and ailments.”
Blair became passionate about his discovery and spread the word to friends and family about the positive effects CBD had on his physical and mental well-being.
“As soon as I found out it was helping me I started helping my friends and family with it,” Blair said. “Then I decided it was time to help the community and I brought it right to the storefronts and make it readily available so people can actually get the help that they need in a more natural way.”
In light of this discovery he kept researching the whole cannabis plant family and said the therapeutic discoveries he has made have driven him to continue his cause to make CBD, and now cannabis, readily available to local consumers.
“So for myself I have been in the CBD market for the last three years once the hemp regulations were passed and I have been selling it out of my pie shop. I have spent a lot of time understanding the hemp plant and it has the opposite effect that THC has in marijauna.,” Blair said “I have done a lot of research in marijauna and it is actually a great natural alternative to prescription medications.”Since the end of prohibition, Blair has been observing the evolution of the Vermont state legislature’s action on the legalization of cannabis.
“Marijauna, in Vermont, is something you can grow yourself and possess yourself but you can’t purchase it yourself. So in between seasons you can’t get it. Or if you cannot grow it with a specific type of skill set you don’t have any access to it because it is against the law to sell it,” he said. “Recreational retail sales are against the law until this year. So my whole point is to make it readily available to the community so they can access it for their health so they can get it without having to travel to Massachusetts or Maine or try to do it illegally. There’s no reason that we don’t have that opportunity to have someone obtain this completely legal.”
Blair said he will be connecting strictly with local growers for both CBD and cannabis.
“In my CBD shop I use all local growers and quite a handful of them are going to be switching over. I grow myself and I also have other local growers that are involved in this and are going to be working on their small growers licenses so they will be featured at cannabis retail shops,” he said. “I will be selling from local growers, it will be tested and it’s going to be high quality cannabis. I’m not going to be looking at a third party commercial company doing it somewhere in a factory. I’m looking to capitalize on local growers who can supply high quality.”
Blair said packaging will be discreet and opaque as determined by the legislature and the state Cannabis Control Board.