Higher Education comes to Cambridge


Gunter Kleist

Dusty Kenney, Dave Dolua, Amanda Palumbo and Patrick Olszewski bring a high level of service to their customers

Since last October, cannabis dispensaries have been popping up all over Vermont, seemingly all with their own niche that sets each one apart from the other.

At the end of last year, Cambridge Country Cannabis opened in Cambridge, Vermont, located at 185 Church Street. Cambridge County Cannabis is owned by Dusty Kenney, who has been in the cannabis industry for 25 years. He opened this dispensary with his business partner, Christopher Preston.

Upon seeing the gray, boxy exterior, one wouldn’t expect to walk into the open, naturally lit inside of the dispensary. Roof windows let in the sunshine, warming the space visually and atmospherically. The various strains of cannabis are displayed front and center, with information next to each one about the strain, including the terpenes in them. Names ranging from “Strawberry Cereal Milk” to “Raspberry Parfait” invoke a sweet, mouthwatering flavor, while other names such as “Grampa’s Stash” and “Planet of the Grapes,” earn more of a chuckle. Besides weed, colorful bongs and pipes are displayed behind glass. Other necessities such as rolling paper, grinders, and bong cleaner, are also available.

Cambridge County Cannabis outsources all their products, all Vermont made, though. They also sell bulk style, meaning product is displayed in glass jars, in order to showcase the farmers. The dispensary currently has 35 strains in bulk. Kenney didn’t want farmers to be spending all their money on packaging, as cannabis products are only allowed to be sold in eco-friendly packaging in Vermont.

“Unfortunately, all that eco-friendly packaging was made in China or glass that took a lot to get here. After the first month, people were running out of packaging. My solution to that and the way I always saw the business being is to do it in a bulk style. I buy biodegradable bags and we sell by the gram,” said Kenney. He adds that all the information that the farmer wants buyers to know will still be available on the barcode on the bags.

Kenney sees positives with this more interactive shopping style, as customers can see what they’re buying, smell what they’re buying, and what they’re buying wasn’t packaged months ago.

Knowing where a product came from is important for Kenney, not just for himself but for customers as well. “We try to introduce our customers to our farmers either by a story of how we found them, or how they came to get on our shelves,” he said. “We had some people from Greencastle Reserve Cannabis come in and do an hour-long tutorial to get us educated on what they do differently than other growers. The idea with that is that it raises the knowledge, and it raises that ability so that the staff here is a little bit sharper on the products we carry.”

The staff also has a knowledge of terpenes, which are the active ingredient in cannabis that dictates the effect and taste.
Educating the costumer is an important aspect to the shopping experience at Cambridge County Cannabis. Kenney wants the costumer to leave with a bit more knowledge than when they came in, “We’re big on educating the consumer on that it’s not just THC,” he said. “There’s more to the cannabis plant and more to the effects than just that one number.”

Customer service is key to the way Kenney wants to conduct business. He believes everyone deserves customer service, and everyone deserves to be treated a certain way in retail. “Retail has lost that light, lost the shine, and I want to bring that back a little bit,” he said. “I want my people when they come in to feel special, to feel like their thoughts are enjoyed, their feedback is enjoyed, that we’re not just processing another sale, that we’re really getting to know them, and that we’re building something here that’s for the future.”

Kenney wants to focus on building a relationship with the community, as not just a retail store, but as a place for people to come in and feel safe enough to ask questions. “It’s easy to pop up a business and sell cannabis and make money. The hard part is building a relationship with community you’re in,” he said.

What Kenney feels sets Cambridge County Cannabis apart from other dispensaries is the educational side, which also further strengthens relationships with the cliental. “One thing we pride ourselves on is that if you have a question, come on in, we want to sit and talk. If it takes you three days to pick out a product? Sweet! Let’s go through every product and take those three days,” Kenney said.

He recalls being in high school in the nineties when weed was just starting to take off again. “The war on drugs was an illegitimate war,” he said. “It was based on racism, and based on ways to hold down different ways of free thought. It’s no surprise drugs won ‘the war on drugs.’ They had a lot more fans.”

Considering marijuana use is still questionable in the eyes of many, Kenney treats it as another reason to educate. “People need to be able to relax, detach, and decompress. It’s something that’s been going on forever, it’s human nature, it shouldn’t be hidden,” he said. “We lead lives that are stressful. There’s a lot of people that would have had a different lifestyle growing up if their fathers smoked weed instead of drinking.”

The dispensary is also trying to distance itself from the shady reputation that in the past was associated with some aspects of the cannabis industry. For him, that shady reputation does not apply. He mentioned a few phone calls that the company has gotten, people wondering when all kinds of “other things” are coming out. Kenney muses that hopefully with providing great customer service, and again, educating, whatever stigma remains will change.

The dispensary currently has 55 different varieties of cannabis. Products range from flower, to pre-rolls, to vape cartridges. Edibles come in various forms (i.e., gummies, caramels, chocolate), and there are tinctures as well, which were noted to have had a recent spike in popularity. Kenney recently introduced THC-infused seltzer in glass bottles to his product line too.
Cambridge Cannabis Company is located on 185 Church Street in Cambridge. Their hours are 8a.m.-8p.m., Mon-Sat, and 8a.m.-6p.m. on Sundays. Follow them on Instagram @cambridgecannabiscompanyvt.