I have been spending more and more time down in Montpelier, as legislators continue mulling over the details of H170, the bill to legalize cannabis in Vermont. I was asked to give testimony to the Committee on Public Safety, and that testimony was expanded on and posted to the Heady Vermont blog, which you can find HERE
Here’s the testimony:
My name is Will Read, I am a five-year resident of Waterbury Center, and I have been living in Vermont on and off since 2005. I have been using cannabis medicinally, in several capacities, for over 20 years. I am part of the “Ritalin Generation” of the ’80s and ’90s: Kids whose energy levels, ‘different’ learning curves and inability to focus resulted in hundreds of thousands being prescribed drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, Vyvanse and a few others.
Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a central nervous system stimulant. It affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. Ritalin is used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and narcolepsy. The prefix of the drug “methyl” describes the true, evil nature of this drug — which is essentially speed. For 15 years, I was prescribed over 100mgs/day (200mgs/day in my later years) of speed. To put that in perspective, the “average” dosage for a child is 10mgs/day. Between the ages of 12-15 (because of my size) I was given adult dosages of this drug. As one might imagine, I became socially withdrawn, lost a lot of weight, became nervous and jittery, lost my appetite and only slept around three to five hour a day. I exhibited the same behavioral tendencies of someone with a significant cocaine problem, because I was on an unimaginable amount of uppers.
As a growing teenager, you might understand how this is not the best way to live life. Luckily, when I was 17, I discovered cannabis, which — at the time — I used to counter-act the effects of the tremendous doses of uppers I was forced to take. I could finally sleep, I was finally hungry, and I was able to maintain a solid GPA. I did not become a derelict, I was not kicked out of my house, or asked to leave school, my GPA did not fall (in fact the opposite), and I did not enter the gateway to other drugs. I did, however, start listening to Phish. This is not the model example of how to discover cannabis, but it is my particular story.
In 2002 (at the age of 22), I was diagnosed with Closed Angle Glaucoma, which is both extremely rare in someone of my age and incredibly painful. I was treated by a specialist in Burlington and through my general practitioner. At some points the pain was so intense that opiates were prescribed. In addition to pain meds, I was prescribed eye medication that made my blue eyes turn grey and caused my eye lashes to fall out. An overly-vain person, I am not, but these side-effects did cause me some anguish. After the first Vermont medical marijuana laws were passed, I kept trying to have conversations with my doctor about providing me with a recommendation for medicinal cannabis, but my efforts were met with patronizing comments and general unprofessionalism. So I fired them all and found someone professional who understood my needs and how cannabis could alleviate many of my symptoms.
I have been a registered patient for almost two years, but have only actually visited a dispensary twice. Why? Because it isn’t a consumer-friendly experience. The regulation on cannabis in this state is far behind other states, and that, unfortunately, translates to a bad patient experience. While I’m happy the MMJ laws exist in this state, they have a long way to go before I would consider them the slightest bit successful. I understand that H.170 will not politically affect the medical community, but it will have a direct effect on it by allowing a more open market and providing more options to patients who desperately need them. Quality aside, I can imagine that it’s darn-near-impossible, for example, for a patient with needs in the Northeast Kingdom to find a responsible caregiver. We’re plagued with too-few dispensaries, all with an embarrassingly low-bar of product quality. This is not the “Vermont” way. The “Vermont” way is taking pride in the products we make, and even more pride in the experience that product has on a consumer. I have yet to see this in the Vermont MMJ community.
In addition to my personal connection to the need for broader access, I also have a perspective on the entrepreneurial side of things. I moved to Vermont because I related to the values that define our state. I wanted to be more involved in nature, have a more meaningful career, and maybe someday start a family. One thing I have heard time and time again is that “Vermont is no friend to business,” which I understand, but have ultimately decided to ignore. In 2015, I developed a business model akin to Dealer.com that would accommodate the cannabis industry, providing inexpensive but beautiful websites for canna-businesses. My business partner (also a Vermonter) and I have launched our business and are already accepting requests for proposals and generating business relationships.
As a Vermont entrepreneur, I want nothing more than to contribute back to my state, and help decrease the deficit and basically do my part as a tax-paying business owner. I, and many other Vermont entrepreneurs, are watching, flabbergasted, as neighbor states pass adult-use laws and states like Colorado, Oregon and Washington pull in hundreds of thousands of tax dollars per month. I appreciate the concerns of legislators who focus on traffic, public safety and “the children,” but to ignore the good that a regulated market could do for Vermont is downright irresponsible. I’m one of a few dozen or so entrepreneurs who have leapt, feet first, into this industry as outliers. While I’m aware H.170 won’t create a regulated market, I think that it is an appropriate first step to a legal marketplace, which I strongly believe could do a lot of good for our state. A regulated system could easily contribute tax dollars to help rebuild our schools, to help pay for that crumbling bridge on Stowe Street in Waterbury, to pay for prevention programs, and to pay for the police force that we’re considering firing. If H.170 doesn’t pass, I will be saddened to know that we’ll not only be sending an inconceivable amount of tax dollars to Maine and Massachusetts, but that our roads will be jam-packed with drivers making this cannabis commute.
Theresa, I come at this from multiple sides: First, as a patient whose life was exponentially improved after discovering cannabis, but is frustrated with the quality of our system, and secondly, as an entrepreneur who knows that we’re missing a huge opportunity here. I encourage the Committee to not only pass H.170, but to begin considerations on how best to introduce a regulated market in the next legislative session.
Thank you for your time, and If there’s anything else I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask.
CEO – CannaPlanners – Proud to be a Vermont Business
CannaPlanners is a full service design and development agency based out of Burlington, VT. Founded by Will Read and Alaina Kunkle, the mission of CannaPlanners is to normalize and professionalize the canna-industry through beautiful design and simple web services.
To find out who your legislators are, and how best to contact them regarding issues that are important to you CLICK OVER TO NEW GRASSROOTS
Thanks for reading and supporting legalization in Vermont – here’s Phish’s famous Tahoe Tweezer (hope you’ve got 36 mins to spare).