“Historic” flooding in Vermont is causing an unprecedented number of landslides in the state, impacting businesses including those in the cannabis industry. After Vermont cannabis businesses were denied federal assistance, local trade organization, Cannabis Retailers Association of Vermont, and local festival Higher Calling plan to raise funds.

Summer flooding wreaked havoc upon the state of Vermont over the summer months. It’s probably not the last of flooding the state is in for: “I don’t want to be alarmist, but I also want to be realistic,” Ben DeJong, the state geologist told VTDigger. “This could be something we deal with again.”

Even with provisions that work in other industries, such as federal crop insurance, cannabis businesses often are left out of those programs. Although Vermont Gov. Phil Scott asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster declaration, it still would not allow affected cannabis farmers to receive federal crop insurance, according to a USDA Farm Service Agency executive director. 

“Because we are a federal agency, we have to follow federal law,” said Small Business administration public information officer, Carl Dombek. “Cannabis is not legal under federal law, and therefore we are not able to lend to cannabis dispensaries.”

Forbins Finest in Barre was among the cannabis stores that were impacted. “The water came in pretty hard, pretty fast,” said Angela Payette, co-owner of Forbin’s Reserve, Inc. 

“To get right back into action, get back open so that people can have just a little bit of relief in some tough times,” said Brandon Marshall, the other co-owner of Forbin’s Reserve, Inc. However, Forbins Finest was able to reopen, while others were not, such as Capital Cannabis.

“The North Branch River was cresting over and immediately flooded the back parking lot as we were pulling out and we haven’t been able to move back in since,” said Lauren Andrews, who owns Capital Cannabis in Montpelier. Capital Cannabis was relocated to the Central Vermont Marketplace in Berlin.

Higher Calling

To lend a helping hand, the Cannabis Retailers Association of Vermont is selling tickets to Higher Calling, a two-day music festival in Cabot, and providing a portion of proceeds to flood victims. Organizers hope to sell 1,500 tickets for Higher Calling. The festival takes place on Sept. 15 and 16 in Cabot, Vermont, at Pransky Farm.

Really stoked to see our client @ZenbarnVT / @zenbarnfarms producing this awesome event to support the Cannabis Retailers Assoc. of VT Flood Relief Fund!

Learn more below and get your tickets by visiting: https://t.co/PMpeuc9lQ1

Cannabis Retailers Association of Vermont is… pic.twitter.com/4ryMKbG0nM

— PufCreativ (@pufcreativ) August 11, 2023

Organizers say that all the proceeds going beyond the festival expenses will go towards flood victims in the industry. “Any money that we make from sponsorships that exceeds the expense of the festival, 100% of those funds will go into the fund to support cannabis businesses,” said Todd Bailey, the executive director of the Cannabis Retailers Association of Vermont.

Planning for the festival began months ago, The Cannabis Retailers Association of Vermont said. But they quickly shifted focus to transform the festival into a fundraising effort once the severity of flooding became more apparent. 

Barre, Vermont was one of the cities most impacted by flooding. Landslides took out houses, powerlines, and infrastructure. Debris litters the streets. It was bad enough that they renamed the state’s annual Green Up Day, Flood Recovery Clean Up Day, which will take place on Saturday, August 26. The idea is to clean up roadsides, rivers, parks, and other areas hit hardest by the recent wave of widespread flooding.

The day is meant to “keep Vermont the clean and beautiful place we know and love, as we welcome visitors to support our economy and communities,” Gov. Phil Scott said during a press conference on Tuesday.

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