After some miscommunication with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT), the Middlebury Selectboard is looking to residents to inform their official choices on cannabis legalization.
Following a town meeting in August, the selectboard released a public survey to take the local temperature on cannabis business. The online survey is available until September 5, and “wishes to test three distinct questions.” 1. Does the general population of Middlebury favor or oppose cannabis legalization? 2. Does the town wish to continue supporting the VLCT in their lobbying efforts against legalization? 3. Are residents of the town comfortable with the prospect of cannabis businesses opening shop in Middlebury?
The Middlebury survey was issued in part because the town may have been misrepresented in the vote to lobby against legalization. The VLCT (a lobbying and town support organization) notes their opposition to cannabis legalization under the Public Safety section of their Municipal Policies page. They also oppose expanding the decriminalization efforts acheived though Act 76 of 2015.
As Middlebury lawyer and legalization advocate Dave Silberman commented: “It was wholly inappropriate for the selectboard to authorize the VLCT to lobby the governor and legislature against legalization, two years in a row, without so much as notifying residents that it was doing so.” Being owned by its member municipal governments, the VLCT has a direct responsibility to each of its constituent towns.
Depending on the survey results, the town of Middlebury may have a new position on cannabis to take to the VLCT –– time will soon tell. The survey and the situation preceding it raise good questions. Is it appropriate for cannabis to be classified and lobbied around as a public safety matter? What is the place of resident voices in the VLCT’s statewide lobbying network? Is there a gap in cannabis conception between residents and officials in the state of Vermont?