Letters to the Editor: No secrecy over marijuana stance

The Thursday, Sept. 15, edition of the Addison Independent published a letter to the editor from Middlebury resident Dave Silberman regarding Selectboard consideration of the VLCT’s position on marijuana legalization in the upcoming 2018 legislative session. We wish to address an important point we take issue with as written.
In Mr. Silberman’s letter, he alleges the town held “secret” meetings on the issue and on the vote to support prior VLCT opposition to legalizing marijuana. We disagree. Middlebury Selectboard meetings are warned properly with accompanying information posted in our board packets. All Selectboard discussions and voting on this topic took place in open session. We do not hold hearings on every position the board takes.
At the conclusion of the 2017 Town Meeting, a quick straw poll was taken as an advisory to the Selectboard indicating a desire by some to have greater discussion on the matter of marijuana legalization and the VLCT position to lobby against legalization. The request was made again at the board’s first meeting to discuss VLCT policy following the VLCT presentation to our board. The board listened and has provided warned agenda time in three meetings this year to discuss the VLCT position. We also conducted a survey to understand the community feeling on marijuana legalization.
It should be noted that VLCT’s Legislative Policy proposal with regard to the legalization of marijuana has evolved since last year. Under section 3.01, Public Safety — Priorities for Implementation, in 2016, the draft policy stated: “VLCT opposes the legalization of marijuana or the expansion of current exemptions to Act 76.” The same section in 2017 states: “Marijuana should only be legalized for recreational purposes after all public safety, public health, and local regulatory and budgetary concerns are adequately addressed.” The town survey was written before the proposed VLCT policy was known, so data is not available reflecting public opinion on the new position.
While the will of the people is extremely important to your board (see Angelo Lynn’s September 15th editorial), the board also feels the responsibility of ensuring any state legislation provides for the needs of order and safety for the town and its people. We are weighing these somewhat disparate needs given the subject and, at our last meeting, there was some sense that the revised VLCT position strikes a balance.
The survey was a valuable part of the Sept. 12 Selectboard discussion, as it will again be at our upcoming Sept. 26 meeting. The public is welcome as the board appoints a delegate and decides whether we have any instructions for that person to take to the VLCT Board Meeting on Oct. 4.
Links to all the corresponding 2015, 2016 and 2017 meeting info, minutes and MCTV videos can be found on the Town of Middlebury’s Website, townofmiddlebury.org. Go to: Public Notices > Public Announcements > For the Record on Public Meetings and in the Sept. 26 Selectboard packet under VLCT Editorial Links, once the packet is live on Friday afternoon.
Brian Carpenter, Chair
Susan Shashok, Vice Chair
Middlebury Selectboard

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