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State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies End Illegal Drug Operation in St. Johnsbury

October 6, 2022


Contact: Chief Skyler Genest
Senior Director, Licensee Operations
Phone Number: 802-477-2429

State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies  
End Illegal Drug Operation in St. Johnsbury

St. Johnsbury, VT – October 6, 2022 – The Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery (DLL), in conjunction with the Caledonia County State’s Attorneys Office, Saint Johnsbury Police Department, Vermont Department of Corrections Probation and Parole, and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), executed a search warrant that led to the seizure of drugs, ledgers, cash, and other evidence depicting illegal drug sales.

During a six-month investigation, Pat Ross, an investigator with DLL, verified complaints associated with Best Buds Smoke Shop in St. Johnsbury, which currently holds a tobacco license with a tobacco substitute endorsement. Those complaints included allegations of illegal drug sales to minors and within proximity to a school. 

On September 23, 2022, DLL investigators conducted a regulatory inspection of Best Buds Smoke Shop. Based on the information obtained during the investigation and the regulatory inspection, Investigator Ross applied for a search warrant in Caledonia County Criminal Court. The search warrant execution led to the seizure of felony amounts of what the Department suspects are hallucinogenic mushrooms, prepackaged marijuana, hashish/hash oils, cannabis edibles, evidence of illegal possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, and approximately $3,000 in alleged illegal cash proceeds. 

Criminal charges were filed in Caledonia County Criminal Court and Barry J. McKee, owner of Best Buds Smoke Shop, was charged with 18 VSA 4235(b) Possession of Hallucinogenic Drugs; 18 VSA 4235(c) Selling or dispensing Hallucinogenic Drugs; 18 VSA 4237 Selling or dispensing to minors; selling on school grounds; 18 VSA 4230 Possession and Sale of Cannabis; and 13 VSA 4017 Persons prohibited from possessing firearms; conviction of violent crime.

McKee was released with a citation and is scheduled to appear in Caledonia County Criminal Court on October 24, 2022.

About The Department of Liquor and Lottery
The Department of Liquor and Lottery provides a regulatory framework of licensing, compliance, enforcement, and education for the responsible sale and consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and gaming entertainment, ensuring public safety, and contributing 100% of profits to Vermont communities through the General and Education funds.

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