Progress in the Face of Adversity: 2020
Let’s speak plainly: 2020 was rough. The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with increased social and political unrest, has placed stressors on our society – the likes of which we have not collectively endured for decades. The ramifications are being felt personally and professionally, with nary a home or business left untouched by these challenges. To those of you who have suffered irrecoverable losses during this time, we extend our heartfelt condolences.
The pandemic in particular has upended business as usual, demanding that we quickly adjust to new information and make multiple operational changes to provide you, our registered patients, with uninterrupted service. It hasn’t been easy for anyone. Thank you for remaining flexible and bending with us as we have navigated all of these twists and turns. This is undoubtedly the highlight of the past year. We could not have done it without you and our dedicated staff!
Now that we’ve made it through the first week of the New Year, it is an excellent time to reflect on our accomplishments in 2020. Focusing on the positive is always helpful when planning for a brighter future.
- We successfully lobbied the state to define medical cannabis dispensaries as essential businesses. This is a significant step forward not just for the continued normalization of cannabis but for the acceptance of plant-based medicine as a whole.
- Declaring our operations essential also ensured that registered patients in VT received uninterrupted access to their medicine and provided financial stability for our team of cannabis professionals. We are happy to report that we have maintained our complete package of health care benefits for our staff during this time and offer hazard pay in acknowledgment of the risks that they take each day in performing their essential duties.
- We quickly transitioned to safe shopping options, including curbside pickup, drive-thru service and expanded low/no-cost home delivery. We implemented a more robust online shopping experience and created methods of no contact payment. We reinstated our Loyalty Program, transitioning reward points redemption to cash savings instead of product.
- We began the rollout of new and improved packaging with dosing information and clear guidelines on safely consuming and storing your products.
- We launched our Relax, Restore & Revitalize Tincture menu, the first in a series of menu changes that feature enhanced formulations and more in-depth descriptions of the products so that patients can make more informed decisions.
- We transitioned our Meet Your Medicine Maker educational series to digital and added more learning opportunities. While we miss inviting you into our production facility to meet with you, face to face, offering the classes online created much-improved access for our Southern Vermont Wellness patients. We will continue to provide the digital MYMM when we can return to in-person events.
- We committed our organization to a charitable partnership with The Last Prisoner Project. Through generous patient donations and company matches, we’ve contributed over $6,500 so far to support their criminal justice reform initiatives!
- Our staff-led Social Justice Committee reviewed our entire supply chain to ensure that the vendors we work with share our values. In the process, we committed to identifying and building more relationships with BIPOC and women-owned companies.
- Through charitable giving and product donation, we were able to continue our community partners’ support, helping them enact their mission in these difficult economic times: The Intervale Center, Outright Vermont, All Breed Rescue, Groundworks Collaborative & The Vermont Women’s Fund, to name a few.
- We increased our participation in local and regional business associations such as VBSR, the LCRCC and the BBA to elevate discussions around the importance of increased access to medical cannabis.
- And let us not forget that we helped pass S.54, the bill to create a legal cannabis marketplace for adults in Vermont! Your voices were critical in this success.
2021 will indeed have its own new set of challenges, but there is light on the horizon. COVID-19 vaccinations are underway. The election of the Biden/Harris administration has the potential for giant steps forward in creating a just, inclusive and sustainable marketplace for both medical and adult-use cannabis. Their platform includes the legalization of medical cannabis at the federal level. The SAFE Banking Act and the MORE Act have both passed the House of Representatives and have a more significant opportunity to be voted on in the Senate now that Democrats have a slim majority.
In Vermont, progress is being made on forming the Cannabis Control Board and cities and towns across the state are proactively adding opt-in (for retail cannabis sales) questions to their local ballots.
Progress on any or all of these activities will have a positive impact on our ability to expand our products and services and create more value for our registered patients. We will be working with our elected and appointed officials at every level of government to advance these causes.
Here’s to a healthier and happier 2021! There is much that we can accomplish when we do it together.
Again, thank you all for your continued support.