A Greensboro entrepreneur is looking to turn Greensboro a little greener.

Kelli Story is seeking permits from the town to open Highly Holistic, a new shop on Main Street in Greensboro Bend where she intends to sell CBD, or cannabidiol, and hemp products, which are currently legal to sell in Vermont.

But Story has set her sights beyond what’s currently legal toward what may soon be legal, pending the town’s approval of the sale of marijuana, recently legalized for adult recreational consumption in the state.

What Story envisions is something much more and much less than the traditional distillery and hopes this vision will help her secure a coveted license to retail cannabis when approvals are issued next fall.

Story currently owns a small building she hopes to turn into a gift shop to sell handmade CBD baked goods — “baked fresh in the morning, like a normal bakery,” according to her — along with soaps and, eventually, other products on consignment.

Though legally the businesses must be separate, Story would like her eventual marijuana dispensary to also focus on quality edibles and products geared toward alleviating pain and promoting overall health. She also wants to make her business a community center, a positive place for families that fights against what she sees as an outdated anti-marijuana mentality leftover from the war on drugs.

“We want to be able to use our land to help the town out,” Story said. “We want to have a community garden, put a little playground in — a nice family-friendly space — and break the stigmas around cannabis all at the same time.”

The process

Story is intent on making her vision a reality and getting in on the ground floor of legal cannabis in Vermont.

Though licenses for selling recreational marijuana to adults are still a year away, Story has lawyered up and brought on Tim Fair and Vermont Cannabis Solutions, a Burlington-based law group specializing in advising the state’s budding hemp, CBD and cannabis industry on legal matters, to help her cause.

At a Sept. 8 meeting of the Greensboro Selectboard, Story approached the board about assisting them as it contemplates a March Town Meeting vote on whether to approve the recreational sale of cannabis in town.

Story said her lawyers told her just before the meeting that she didn’t need to go to the selectboard and alert them that she wanted to open a dispensary. Fair advised her that all Vermont towns were required to hold a vote to approve or deny the sale of cannabis before next March.

Story said she had spoken to selectboard chair Peter Romans before approaching the board, claiming that he said he would support the allowance of marijuana product sales in Greensboro and Story in her quest to open a dispensary.

Romans did not return a request for comment.

The recently created Cannabis Control Board, the state entity in charge of regulating the new industry, is still working to establish all the rules and guidelines that will eventually determine how potential dispensary owners like Story can operate.

In the meantime, she’s preparing for an eventual approval from the town. Story has tentative plans for everything, even where on her property will be the best location for legally growing quality marijuana and an experienced grower able to create a product that will fetch a high market price.

A bill passed in the last legislative session mandated that the control board provide special loans and grants for “social equity applicants,” a category Story believes she may qualify for as a woman who also intends to employ people of color and others who belong to historically marginalized groups.

The board did not return a request for comment.

“I don't know what the taxes for this town are going to be,” she said. “But I know that the quality product we’re planning on growing is going to be stuff that goes for like $20 a gram. So, it’s high-price stuff.”

Unlikely entrepreneur

Though the shop Story hopes to open in Greensboro Bend would be her first foray into selling CBD-infused baked goods, she’s been making artisanal baked goods with a little extra “flavor” for some time and gifting them to the elderly or in-pain for medical purposes.

Story herself is epileptic and believes strongly in the medicinal purposes of both CBD and marijuana in general.

“I’m the lady handing out candies to people with arthritis or people on chemotherapy when I’m helping people who would like to medicate with this as an alternative medicine, as opposed to people recreationally using it,” she said.

According to Story, her first husband abruptly left her and their children in 2015, took their life savings and fled to Hawaii. A lifelong homemaker with no work experience, she found herself destitute and was forced to get creative in order to survive.

In 2018, while living in Milton, she started Glitter Bomb Entertainment, a DJ and karaoke business she ran with her second husband, which she claims was moderately successful and about to turn a profit before the pandemic hit, forcing her to change her business plan.

Looking for a change, Story and her husband relocated to Greensboro, where they see the potential for a high-quality cannabis dispensary to bring a needed vibrancy to the community.

“Greensboro specifically has a lot of residents in the summer, just from Caspian Lake residents,” she said. “So, I feel like we would be really appealing to the recreational crowd because we would definitely carry really high quality products.”

While Story is filled with ambitious ideas with a wide scope for what a cannabis dispensary could be for the community of Greensboro, she needs the town to say “yes” before she can move forward with her plans.

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