Dover bans marijuana dispensaries | The Brattleboro Reformer

By Chris Mays, Brattleboro Reformer

DOVER — Medical marijuana dispensaries will not be opening here.

“The establishment, opening, operation or location of a dispensary in the town of Dover, Vermont, is prohibited,” says an ordinance adopted unanimously by the Select Board Tuesday.

Police Chief Randy Johnson spearheaded the effort after wanting an ordinance in place for several years now. He said it is very similar to Newport’s version but Dover added language that would allow for the town to collect most of the funds for penalties related to smoking marijuana in public, which is not allowed under state law.

The full penalty for smoking in public is $500 but waivers can be paid in the amount of $150 for the first offense and $250 for the second offense. After that, the penalty is $500.

Select Board member Sarah Shippee said the process of getting dispensaries set up is too complicated to include penalties in the ordinance. Dispensaries need a letter of support from the town for the state to grant a permit to operate.

Jeannette Eckert, assistant town clerk and office manager, said the ordinance will go into effect Oct. 6 unless there is a petition filed. On Wednesday, she had not heard of any petition circling. A registered voter would need to file a petition within 45 days of adopting the ordinance. Five percent of the voters would need to sign it, meaning 60 people.

The ordinance prohibits retailers from selling products that have more than 0.5 percent tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Usually cannabidiol or CBD oil, which is used for a variety of health issues, contains less than 0.3 percent THC.

“You can assume good market pot to have 18 percent THC; that is, for every gram of pot you have roughly 180 mg of THC,” says High Times, a publication dedicated to marijuana news and information.

According to, “THC is infamous for its psychoactive properties which create a euphoric high in the person smoking or ingesting the substance.”

While THC and cannabidiol or CBD “are commonly put in the same group, they are separate entities that react differently in the body,” the website says.

While Johnson has advocated for the ordinance for years, the board only recently took up the issue. Two Wilmington women had approached the town about opening a medical marijuana dispensary in town and board members wanted public input.

A survey found support for prohibiting the sale of marijuana. Voters said in an 86-57 vote with one blank ballot that they did not want medical marijuana sold in town. They said no to recreational sales in a 97-47 vote. Property owners said yes to medical in an 18-11 vote with five blank ballots. They said no to recreational in an 18-13 vote with three blank ballots.

Stephanie Zumbruski, who proposed the medical marijuana dispensary in Dover, said she is waiting on the state to release its next round of applications to open another dispensary.

“However, since Vermont has legalized recreational marijuana, the applications for medical marijuana cards have slowed down,” she wrote in an email, referring to how the number of card holders influences when the state will decide a new dispensary is needed. “We are very proud of the work we’ve done so far. We feel like to this point we’ve helped lay out the brick work for future businesses in the area. We feel that we helped educate and inform people as well. We will continue to be available for questions in the future.”

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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