While neighboring Johnson approved retail cannabis in March and Morristown gears up to vote next month, Cambridge is taking a more cautious approach on whether to allow marijuana sales.

On Tuesday, Cambridge Planning Commission member and real estate agent Christopher Preston updated the Cambridge Selectboard members on a recent conversation with the Lamoille County Regional Planning Commission and a Healthy Lamoille Valley seminar he attended on regulating cannabis in local Vermont communities.

Reflecting on his listening tour, Preston recommended the town form a working group to reach out to different members of the community, citing examples like the one established in Woodstock.

Retail licenses will be issued next October, he said.

A large portion of the 20 percent tax applied to retail cannabis will go toward education, he told the board. He said the Legislature may consider allowing a local tax on marijuana but at this point municipalities do not benefit from marijuana sales.

“There are many facets or factors that more or less need to be discussed,” Preston said. “There’s kind of a looming deadline and timeline associated with it. In Lamoille, Johnson has already opted in and Morrisville is having a meeting in the upcoming month.”

Preston recommended people from different areas of expertise and interests assemble into a working group, noting that while the planning commission had not discussed the issue, members would likely step up to assist the group.

“Maybe I’m a little bit naive. I do not partake so I’m not really a big proponent,” said selectboard member Larry Wyckoff. “But I’m wondering where the controversy is going to be. If you have a retail establishment that’s selling it with regulations, as opposed to my buddy down the street that, you know, gets it in bulk and sells it for cheap to kids … I’m curious what they think the controversy is going to be?”

Preston explained that one of the core concerns was children’s possible access to cannabis and where retail shops were located — on Main Street or hidden away.

Selectboard member Cody Marsh worried that the town was already behind on the process.

“I certainly think some type of article needs to be added to the town meeting this year to address what townspeople think,” he said. “Certainly, some informational sessions ahead of it, if it does go to the town meeting to a vote. My worry is that stuff takes time and I’m wondering if there really is time ahead of this town meeting in March to kind of really put that level of an effort in.”

Cambridge could opt to simply not put the issue up to a vote at March Town Meeting Day and remain a retail cannabis-free zone, just as its neighbor on the other side of Smugglers Notch, Stowe, is on course to do.

“We don’t want to overdo it, but we’re going to be surrounded by towns that approved this. Maybe not all of them, but some of them,” said Tim Humphrey, chair of the Cambridge Economic Development Assistance Corporation. “I think, ultimately, when the rules are finalized, this is really going to come down to: Do we want to draw people to buy in Cambridge and get the town to get a little revenue or give it to Johnson?”

The board leaned toward the creation of an ad hoc work group led by Preston to explore and educate on the retail cannabis issue before the town decided to raise the question at March Town Meeting Day, but some uncertainty around procedure delayed a final decision.

At the request of selectboard chair Courtney Leitz, she and Preston will confer with town administrator Jonathan DeLaBruere before the next selectboard meeting.

Dog catcher hired

At a Nov. 2 meeting of the selectboard, Cambridge appointed its first-ever dog control officer.

Liam Kearney was appointed to the position, which pays $40 for initial incidents and $20 for each hour of follow-up. Kearney said at the meeting that he has had dogs all his life and isn’t concerned about dealing with them.

The town may appoint more than one dog control officer.

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