The Deeper Dig: Can cannabis giants be contained?

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As Vermont lawmakers continue a push to tax and regulate recreational marijuana, an emphasis on lifting up small Vermont businesses has been constant.

Meeting on Friday with the House Committee on Government Operations, Sen. Dick Sears said S.54, one of two proposals to establish a retail market for recreational pot, takes a “uniquely Vermont approach.”

Under the bill, regulators would prioritize small, local producers when deciding who to license as part of the new system. “We’re hopeful that the regulations…will result in something similar to the craft brewery industry in Vermont,” Sears said.

These provisions were modeled in part on similar efforts by Massachusetts lawmakers to create a fair system in that state, where recreational dispensaries first opened last November.

But a new series by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team shows that large, well-funded marijuana companies are exploiting loopholes in Massachusetts’ system in order to seize control of the state’s burgeoning market.

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