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Burlington city councilors question their own cannabis commission

So far, every time a cannabis license application has come before Burlington's Cannabis Control Commission, it has said "yes." But some members of the commission, which is made up of the entire city council, say they don't have enough information to weigh in at all. 

"It's a bit of a farce to look at these applications that are entirely redacted and to sit at this table and know we do not have an option of voting no," said Joan Shannon, D-South District, during a Nov. 21 meeting of the cannabis commission.

The state's Cannabis Control Board fully vets requests for cannabis licenses. It then sends a redacted version of the applications to the city or town where the business plans to operate. Municipalities only receive the information required under state law, which is limited to the business name, proposed hours, and a series of "yes" or "no" answers to questions, such as whether the location is within 500 feet of a school. The actual address and any other identifying information is withheld.

In Burlington, applicants are invited, but not required, to speak about their businesses to the commission. So far, the city has four licensed cannabis retailers, according to a state database, and four more applications are pending, according to James Pepper, chair of the state Cannabis Control Board.


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