Apr 292017
 
capitol marijuana Vermont

S.16 bill expands medical marijuana use

A critical analysis of S.16  and

     specific comments to the right of the bill provisions.  

by Bob Orleck is a retired Vermont Pharmacist and a former Vermont Assistant Attorney General  Contact: P.O. Box 174, Randolph, VT 05060.  bob@ussorleck.com 802-728-9806

There are so many things wrong with S.16 that even a child should be able to see.  The bill has been presented as a “health bill” but nothing could be further from the truth.  I have tried by focusing on parts of the bill, to make it clear to anyone really interested in analyzing its contents, that this bill is nothing more than an attempt to further the introduction of an addicting drug to Vermont.  A review of even a few of the balloon comments next to the bill’s provisions should reveal the truth of what I have just pointed out.  Passage of this bill will be one of the worse cases of legislative malpractice every done by a Vermont legislature. 

The document may seem long but that is because it incorporates the language of S.16 so that comments could be put next to a specific section of the bill.   With your computer mouse hover over the comment to read it.

Before you get to that, however, you will find some initial numbered comments that it seemed better to list at the beginning.

  1. One important point that should control is that no matter what “marijuana legalization bill” has or will be passed by the Vermont legislature and signed by the Governor, that act will be in direct conflict with the federal 1970 Controlled Substances Act. 16 is a bill that is expanding what was passed in years past and referred to as our “medical marijuana law”.  The only reason that the law has been allowed to function is because Obama administration had chosen to not enforce the law in this area.  Under the new federal administration that non-enforcement policy could soon be changing.  As the dangers become more visible there will come a time when the law in this area will be enforced.  http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/sessions-marijuana-policy-review/2017/04/06/id/782942/
  2. Marijuana is illegal to possess according to the 1970 federal “Controlled Substances Act” and that law has been constitutionally upheld. Any legalization by Vermont, be it for recreational or medical, would violate that law and would be violative of the United States Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.
  3. The proper way for well-controlled, trustworthy, authoritative studies to be done is to enable legitimate medical researchers to be able to possess marijuana for such test. If that enabling were possible, studies using double-blind, placebo controlled study for a particular medical treatment could be done.  That is impossible now since under federal law, marijuana is a classified as a Schedule I drug and the active psychoactive ingredient, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is illegal to possess and has no recognized medical use.  Efforts should be made to convince the federal administration to reclassify marijuana to Schedule II that would allow possession by those capable of doing those well-controlled clinical trials.  It will be then and only then when there will be credible determinations of what value marijuana has for treatment for certain medical conditions.

A few other comments are offered to put the document into the proper perspective.

  1. Lawmakers are not educationally on informationally equipped to make decisions on medical conditions and their proper treatment choices. Such decisions cannot be left to the state.  For uniformity and safety the Food and Drug Administration is the sole agency who can and should perform this role.
  2. As a pharmacist who practiced for over 50 years, I cannot tell you if marijuana has any value or what the value is in the treatment of the diseases listed in this bill. If I can’t do that, how can untrained legislators do that?  I have an opinion but that is all it is, an opinion!  That is all we could hope for from a legislator and for them not being trained even to the degree that I am, that is not a way to make a law.
  3. The bill is presented as a health bill but the medical community believes that healthcare should benefit a person’s health and not damage it. Much of the language is just cosmetic window dressing in order to paint this as responsible legislating.  There can be no responsible legislating on this matter until proper risk/benefit and efficacy studies are done.
  4. The language regarding the conditions qualifying a person is specific in some respects but deteriorates into anything that a healthcare provider wants to certify a patient for. One can’t help but think of the old days when flim-flam men in horse drawn carts sold “snake oil” during their medicine shows as a cure for any and all diseases.   The difference in the “fake medicine” then probably was some harmless substance but and now with marijuana, this fake medicine will have many casualties.
  5. In addition to the above, there are no provisions for standardization of the marijuana product so it is a consistent dosing. There are so many variations of marijuana that it needs to be specifically known what the active ingredients are each and every time a person doses. Science has been left out of this matter.
  6. Under this bill, all that seems necessary to be shown is that the patient has one of these conditions or other medical problems as well that are debilitating and they qualify for treatment with marijuana. One clause allows for qualification for “other diseases, conditions, or treatment as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s health care professional.”   How broad and vague is that?  Such broad permission seems so inappropriate for a drug that has addicting qualities.
  7. 16 makes it easier for people to get marijuana by expanding the conditions that qualify a patient and the bill also makes the procedure for qualifying easier. With the expansion of the numbers of dispensaries, the advertising and provision for being a “for profit” dispensary, the result will be more availability of marijuana and more people using and being able to gain availability to the drug.
  8. Depending on what state you travel to, your treatment options with this drug will be different. The FDA provides the uniformity needed.   Say you have been treated for PTSD or any condition permitted in Vermont and for long enough to be addicted to the marijuana and then you move to a state that respects the rule of law and has not legalized marijuana for any reason.   Consider the dilemma that person is in now.

Click on this link to get the language of the bill and next to many of the provisions are simple, common sense, plain-talk comments on that provision.  Put together they show that this bill has not been adequately vetted and passage as is would be a major case of medical malpractice!

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
 Posted by at 12:50
Apr 052017
 
mud season

Not sure if folks outside the independent country of Vermont can understand this, but when you have been represented (I use that term questionably) by the likes of Senator Patrick Leahy, it makes you wonder if the cold weather doesn’t have some sort of negative effect on rational thinking when we go to the polls in November. Where are term limits when you need them? 42 years for this man who is now incoherent most of the time and asleep the rest.There are times I think our brains are as frozen as our roads are in the winter and as muddy as they are right now in the spring. I even wonder why we go to the polls up here anyway. Maybe we should just appoint the Democrat Party to rule for life They are doing that anyway. Feel sorry for us up here. We desserve it. So I say:

Why even bother to elect a Democrat candidate? Why not just run the “Democrat Party” because their candidates vote the party line no matter what?

The Neil Gorsuch confirmation hearings are very telling on this point and Senator Leahy’s change of mind tells us that it is true. Leahy, more than others should be able to exercise independence on positions and votes, especially when they are guided by what the constitution expects when confirming a Supreme Court nominee. While it is hard to honestly question the qualifications of Judge Gorsuch, that is not really the issue here and we can give Leahy the benefit of the doubt in choosing to vote “no” to confirm.

The telling issue is his opposition to the never before used filibuster to block the nominee, that is, until he heard from “the party” As reported in the digger article: “Leahy’s comments sparked backlash from the left wing of the party, a bloc demanding universal opposition to President Donald Trump’s actions.” So, our independent Senator changed his mind in accord with the “demand” from “the party!

Wouldn’t you think our “Dean of the Senate” with his 42 years there would possess the strength enabling him to stand his ground on this position considering that “advice and consent” by the Senate was not to be given or withheld for political whim? The constitutional provision was there to keep the checks and balances strong and to prevent an unqualified candidate from being placed in a lifetime position without some way to prevent that. It was not to be used as a political tool against a President that ‘the party” hated and was hell bent on opposing no matter the cost to the Senate or the Nation.

While not perfect, the Republicans are not as talented in lock-stepping as the Democrats who do it so well both at the state and national level. If Leahy cannot buck “the party” on something so clear as this, then who can?

mud season

mud season

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
 Posted by at 19:43
Mar 182017
 
capitol marijuana Vermont

31 Reason List

For why H.170 (an act relating to possession and cultivation of marijuana by a person 21 years of age or older) should be rejected.

March 15, 2017

Contact Bob Orleck at bob@ussorleck.com or P.O. Box 174, Randolph, VT 05060.

Phone 802-728-9806. (The items are offered as my personal view only)

31 items to think about before voting on H.170.

  1. What is driving the rush to get this so called legalization of marijuana bill passed this session? We must slow this down and not rush it.  With the change in the administration there is the very real possibility of resolving the legalities of marijuana use medically and open the avenue of clinical study to determine who is right on the issue of safe recreational use.
  2. Marijuana is illegal to possess under federal law and the federal law that makes it illegal has been upheld constitutionally and state law cannot supersede it. What that means is that, while it has been overlooked in the past by the United States Justice Department and the Obama Administration, the medical marijuana clinics are illegal and if Vermont passes legalization of any kind for recreational use that will also be illegal.  Vermont has no power to change that.
  3. Pursuant to the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) there are classes of drugs based on various criteria such as addictiveness, acceptable medical use, and others. Those definitions range from Schedule I to Schedule V with Schedule I being drugs that have no accepted medical use as determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and are illegal to possess.  Heroin is a Schedule I drug and so is marijuana.   Right now Vermont has decriminalized marijuana and that does not run afoul of this act.  If Vermont “legalizes” marijuana, it will be running directly counter to the ACA and will violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution (Article VI, clause 2).
  4. The Trump administration will be more likely to enforce the law against possession of marijuana That evaluation is based on statements that the Attorney General has made about his perception of the law being to enforce the laws that Congress has passed and not “pick and choose” just those he likes.
  5. There is also the real possibility that a reasonable approach could be taken by the new administration to move marijuana to the status of a Schedule II drug and that would allow possession by medical researchers to do well-controlled medical studies on risk/benefit, safety and efficacy of the drug. That being so the claims by both side of the marijuana issue can be tested and decisions could be made on the use of the drug based on scientific facts and not emotion and old worn-out clichés.  For a discussion of this idea for Vermont to be the first to do, see my op-ed piece at https://vtdigger.org/2017/03/03/bob-orleck-marijuana-debate-needs-legal-way-get-clinical-information/
  6. If H.170 is passed in the House it will for certain be changed by the Senate into an even stronger legalization bill and most likely a “commercialization bill” similar to that which originated in the Senate last year. Such a bill would put Vermont in the cross-hairs of federal law enforcement and would be an extreme black-eye for Vermont.
  7. The current federal legal atmosphere no longer allows Vermont to ignore the law and go its own way on this. Vermont could lead the way in our legislature by offering a joint House/Senate resolution calling for the federal government to change the classification of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II which would allow legal possession and the gaining of valuable well-controlled studies that would determine once and for all the possible legal uses of marijuana.
  8. Any other way that Vermont goes will cause major problems for our state. The mnemonic I use for “illegal legalization legislation” which is exactly what H.170 or any legalization bill would be, is “ILL”.  ILL will make Vermont sick in many ways which will be explained in points below.
  9. Marijuana negatively affects brain development in children and young adults. There is little doubt that marijuana is harmful to some brains, especially developing ones, and the human brain is developing up to age 25.
  10. Student use will cause short term memory and motivation loss.
  11. Legalization is a bad signal to send to our youth about drug use.
  12. Second-hand pot smoke is more harmful than second-hand cigarette smoke.
  13. Legalization sends a message that implies safety when even the proponents tell us there are dangers from marijuana. Their suggestion that legalization and regulation will reduce those dangers is not borne out by the facts.
  14. Drug impaired drivers will kill and maim more Vermont citizens. Last year 5 teen-age students were hit head-on by a driver, reportedly under the influence of marijuana, going in the wrong direction on the Interstate at a high rate of speed, causing their horrible deaths in a fiery crash.
  15. How many have to die before we realize the cost of pleasure, indulgence and money is not acceptable?
  16. Marijuana is proven to worsen mental illness in mentally ill people who use marijuana. How can one additional young person suffering from schizophrenia be worth such permissive a law that allow use for pleasure recreationally?
  17. Mental health workers issue: Where are we going to find enough qualified mental health workers to fill the openings? Trained practitioners have not been applying for jobs in Vermont. The state hospital and our regional mental health centers are understaffed and overloaded already, while many beds remain empty because there is no one to provide the necessary care to one more patient. We can’t even fill the positions that are already open. This law will lead to more need for mental health services.
  18. High THC marijuana can lead to an increased incidence of, earlier and more severe psychosis, and actual schizophrenia in youth who are already predisposed due to genetic and sometimes other risk factors.
  19. It will lead to the message of hypocrisy to youth that drugs are OK for adults over 21 but not for us. “Sure!” they will say!
  20. If marijuana is legalized it will be commercialized, advertised, and normalized like the tobacco and alcohol industry has done. Both of these substances are very dangerous so what makes us believe the same process won’t be applied to marijuana who the proponents claim is not as dangerous? Right now Vermont has decriminalized some use of marijuana but has not legalized it for recreational use.  To legalize it will bring problems with controlling such advertising due to the legal rights this will bring to the big pot industry who will exploit it.  Issues surrounding the First Amendment, zoning laws and the like will bring a nightmare to Vermont once the genie is let out of the bottle.
  21. Legalizing marijuana (ILL) will lead to commercialism and that will make Vermont a sick place. Establishing Vermont as a “drug mecca” will discourage some industry that is looking for a state to locate their business. This will have a negative connotation to many who might look to establish a business here or to bring their family here.
  22. Last year when the bill that came right out of the Senate was “commercialism”, I did a 53 reasons to oppose the bill. Those reasons are still applicable if and when any legalization bill passed in the House gets to the  Senate for the morphing into the big commercialization bill that puts illusory tax revenue visions before certain of our legislators at the expense of our children and other citizens.  You can review those reasons by going to that article by clicking here.     http://www.randolphvtplaintalk.com/2016/04/17/747/
  23. Top Vermont Doctors warn against legalizing marijuana:  http://vtdigger.org/2016/01/29/top-vermont-doctors-warn-lawmakers-about-legal-pot/ Nationally, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association have all made public statements opposing the legalization of marijuana.
  24. Does marijuana put people in risk of other addictions? A prestigious report shows dire relationships of marijuana to other addictions: JAMA Comprehensive study showing marijuana use is tied to nicotine, alcohol and drug dependence. Journal of the America Medical Association (JAMA) on Feb 17, 2016, reported on a study of close to 35,000 people (approximately half men and half women) that shows marijuana use is tied to nicotine, alcohol and drug dependence. The study is mentioned in this link at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-02/tjnj-wir021516.php and there is a link to the JAMA abstract regarding the study. What is sad about this is that this is a very definitive broad based study that will be ignored by the deniers that marijuana puts people at risk of other addictions.
  25. Much of what drives the public discussion is “self-indulgence and personal gain”. A careful review of the comments to articles in digger.orgshows this very thing. Just look at the comments after an opinion piece by a mother who had lost a child to drugs. One very insensitive comment was even deleted by the publisher because it was so insensitive. http://vtdigger.org/2016/03/10/linda-mulley-reconsider-marijuana-legalization/?utm_source=VTDigger+Subscribers+and+Donors&utm_campaign=26538bcef0-Weekly+Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dc3c5486db-26538bcef0-405544681 A review of the comments and the thumbs down and up will show the mind-set of many of those advocating for legalizing of marijuana.
  26. Proponents say it is hard to die from marijuana overdose. If the only measure of a drug’s safety was it having a LD (lethal dose), then any side effect short of death would be an invalid consideration in whether a drug should be legalized. It is significant enough that mental health conditions are worsened, children suffer brain development problems and people do die on the road as the result of drug impaired driving. There are many other reasons why marijuana should be and is at presently illegal to possess and sell according to federal law.
  27. Prohibition argument is phony. To say not allowing legal pot for all “adults” is prohibition is analogous to saying we have antibiotic, chemotherapy, narcotic and all prescription drugs prohibition. So what is the difference making a medicinal substance that has a side effect of causing schizophrenia non-prescription and making all medications non-prescription for those considered “adults”?
  28. More on prohibition: We are talking about allowance of marijuana by the state here not prohibition. Recognizing that all the dangers are real the bill proponents think that this bill will reduce them. If we were talking about a simple decriminalization for individuals to grow and use a small amount for personal use, while not ideal, would be better than state legalized use. Prohibition prohibits those without connections from getting something. Legalization opens access. Throwing your hands up in “failure” is a horribly weak argument.
  29. Drug impaired driving in Colorado- In 2014, the first year that marijuana stores were open in Colorado, the state suffered a 32% increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths in just one year; marijuana-related traffic deaths made up 20% of all traffic deaths that year, while the number of THC-impaired drivers, as determined by active marijuana blood tests, increased by 45%. Washington State reported almost a doubling of active marijuana blood tests in impaired drivers since they legalized recreational marijuana. Our state police are already shorthanded – by as many as 16 troopers – due to budget cuts and age attrition. The state cannot afford the added troopers that legal recreational marijuana would require.
  30. Proponents say that it is easier for children to get marijuana than alcohol. Marijuana is not easier for kids to get than alcohol, and our high school use rates reflect this: according to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 30% of Vermont high school students report drinking, while only 22% report using marijuana. Why the difference? Alcohol is legal, thus more available and perceived as less risky. In Colorado, in the first two years of legalization, high school use rates went up by 20% and college-age rates went up 17%.
  31. Personal liberty and privacy. The argument goes something like this: “No one, no government, no ruler, or authority should have the right to tell me what I can and cannot put in my body if I am not hurting another living being by doing it. It’s really very simple. We have no freedom if we have no choice.” The response: Not every action that a person wants to do or substance that he wants to ingest is covered by freedom under our system of laws. A person cannot go into a theater and yell “fire” and rely on the 1st Amendment freedom of speech to do so. With freedom comes responsibility. Fundamental liberty is not freedom to do whatever one wants without regard to the destructiveness of that behavior. What about “child pornography”. Surely no one would argue that this is a protected free speech freedom. Government’s main role is to protect citizens and in order to do that certain acts have to be prevented. The public good requires the limitation on what people “want to do”. If it is detrimental to the public the government has a legitimate role to play to prevent that act. There are no Constitutional limitations on the federal government restricting harmful chemicals and exercising its role in determining if a drug is safe and effective and allowed for public consumption.
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
 Posted by at 10:32
Mar 092017
 
raging river

Did you ever stop and think about how courageous President Donald Trump really is?

Have you ever tried to swim against the current?  It’s much easier to be just gently pulled along by the flow.  The liberal-progressive waters he has entered are those very waters he has voluntarily chosen to enter each and every day for the next four and maybe eight years.

This flow, if not controlled, will overflow its banks and drown us all.  Anyone who tries to go against that current will be constantly beaten and battered by relentless mindless waves of opposition and the flood will continue until it takes you down or until you decide to give up and float over on your back and become a part of the movement.  Those that have done that are the likes of Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Patrick Leahy, Chuck Schumer, Al Frankin and most other politicians today who would sell their soul for the temporary power they will gain here on earth.

President Trump is using every ounce of muscle and strength in each swim stroke in order to make even tiny progress toward getting us back to calmer and safer waters.

We need to pray for him and cheer him on and even help him not only drain the swamp but somehow change that dirty old water in the river.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
 Posted by at 15:52
Jan 292017
 
Genesis 9:6King James Version (KJV)   Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Talking about Physician Assisted Suicide from a Christian perspective.  There is nowhere in scripture where there is a justification for premeditated killing of an innocent person and that is what PAS is about.    The above verse reveals that following the flood, the penalty for taking a life in a premeditated manner (murder) carried a death sentence.   That was later codified in the 6th Commandment.  There is no question but the entire Bible comes down on the side of life.

Being pro-life is a worldview based on faith in Jesus Christ and the understanding of His word that we are made in the image of God.  The term is not limited to just abortion, for being prolife means one recognizes that all “human life is inherently valuable”.  The application will show in many areas where humans interact.  Our faith affects how we see God, the world and each other.

This being so we treat people with dignity no matter their gender, race, age, nationality or economic status. We care for those in prison, the sick, the elderly, disabled, immigrants, those without families and we stand for marriage.  What’s more we fight the culture of death no matter how it shows.

In Vermont it showed its ugly head by the legislature passing and Governor Shumlin signing into law the physician assisted suicide law (act 39) in 2013.  Many fought it then and are still fighting it now.  There is currently a case filed on behalf of healthcare providers who under the law are required to advise a person with a terminal illness that they have the option of killing themselves under this law by prescription from a physician.  Those providers have refused as a matter of conscience and Alliance Defending Freedom has filed an action in Federal Court to fight that provision.  It is still pending.  There will be other attempts to undermine and hopefully at some point repeal the law.

Christians realize by faith and trusting the Word of God that physician assisted suicide is wrong because God says that is so.  Others though,  might say it is the compassionate thing to do and cruel not to allow.  They will argue that the patient wants it done!  You will come up against those who believe that losses of autonomy or severe pain are justifications for this killing.  They will probably not listen to your understanding of the Biblical prohibition, so you need to be prepared to deal with those kinds of individuals as well.

If you have your facts together, you can reason with them and possibly at some point even witness to them.  Only a naïve person would miss the abuse possibilities in this law and even the murder possibility.  Beyond those dangers there are many others and the law and its application have no protections.  Suffice it to say that many knowledgeable people have defined this law as an exercise in “legislative malpractice.”

There are other ways to deal with end of life situations through hospice and palliative care and showing love and understanding to the patient.  When patient’s physical needs are met along with their spiritual ones, requests to end their life are few and far between.

I have experienced two wonderful deaths.  One was Marge Hart, a prayer warrior in our church that so many of you knew and loved.  I also recently experienced the death of my sister, Shirley.  Though I hated to see her in the state she was in and I miss her a lot, it still was one of the most wonderful things I have ever experienced to see how she reached out for the Lord and even though she could not speak, her witness to the doctors and nurses was tremendous.  I know her actions had to have had lasting impacts on those lives who were with her.  I can’t believe such experiences could ever be witnessed when someone dies taking a handful of lethal pills..

We read in Deuteronomy 30:19 that the choise is given to us and we have to make it.  “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
Jan 292017
 

President Donald Trump now wants to look into the fraud that Democrats say does not exist.  Democrats believe the election was affected by Russians but they just can’t accept that it is even possible that there could have been millions of illegal votes for Democrats.  They have such high regard for the honesty of the American voter that they have tried to make it as easy as possible for any person, alive or dead, citizen or illegal to exercise their conscience when deciding to vote or not.  It would be really rude to ask for current identification from a dead person whose licenses probably expired a long time ago.  It would put a chill on illegal aliens desire to participate in American democracy by requiring them to prove they are citizens.

Do you really believe there is no fraud?  Of course you don’t!   Do you believe that because no one is caught that this proves there is none?  Of course you don’t!    Do you really think police have the time or inclination to seek out that vote criminal?  Of course you don’t and even if caught do you expect a prosecutor to even give it a serious look.  Of course you don’t.  No deterrent!     The lax system has been built so there can be denial that it even happens.

Is fraud going to lessen?  Not as long as we have increased the opportunities to engage in fraud.  How do we do that?  We extend the early voting, make it easier to do absentee ballots and some places are considering voting by mail or email.   Just imagine the fraud possibilities there.

To be real honest with you, I don’t care at all about trying to ferret out the culprits and find out how many millions of past ballots have been cast in this past election on any past elections.  Let’s just take one step to get the next election and all elections right!   Some plain talk here folks!   Common sense approach you know!  We require identification for so many things such as flying, cashing a check, entering a Federal building sometimes, renting a car and you name it.  So just do the same and require voter registration.   Most of that fraud that never happens would not happen but the difference in vote tallies would be in the millions I am sure.  Think about it!  Donald Trump is right in believing in fraudulent votes by the millions that he did not get and she did but he cannot prove it.  Who cares though!  Even if he proves it, they will not believe it.  Let’s just get it right the next time.

Republicans, who are so small minded that they only want legal voters, have always wanted voter ID.  Democrats who are on the side of the oppressed and want to do the right thing and make sure that no one is denied the right to vote or oppressed in their attempt no matter what (no matter what), are opposed to it.

Somehow we have to have voter ID requirements in all elections.  ALL ELECTIONS, DO YOU HEAR!!!!!!

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
 Posted by at 19:59
Apr 172016
 
marijuana rejected

Reason list for why S.241 (An act relating to regulation of marijuana) should be rejected by the Legislature of the State of Vermont.

April 8, 2016

By Bob Orleck, a retired pharmacist and lawyer who served as an assistant attorney general under Vermont Attorney General M. Jerome Diamond and is opposed to S.241 and especially to the part of the legislation that establishes a system to license stores to sell marijuana.

  • First of all I have provided some links to helpful websites and articles.
  • Following that list are 53 items (simple phrases or statements that are intended to generate thought on the point raised. Some have references so you can check out the point or do additional reading. I suggest since this is sent to you on-line that you can use a word search that might help you find some reference to the issue you are interested in the document.
  • Finally there are a few narratives that could be helpful to some in giving an overall critical look at the legislation to help you decide how to vote.

The sources and ideas are taken from items I have written, others have written in comments to marijuana issues and thoughts given to me in other media. The intent is not to be comprehensive in resource identification because this entire document needed to be done quickly since the bill is moving quickly. That being said, there are a number of things written that have sources which are primarily links to the articles written or to websites that might be helpful to you. If you have need of more documentation on the source I will gladly try to provide that on request.

Without a doubt this document is intended to point out the problems with legalization and especially with establishing a system of state authorized stores to sell marijuana. It may seem a bit long but that should make you as a legislator think that if there is that much to say about this then maybe it is something that should not be rushed into. There are many things in the works in other states, in the federal government and the medical field related to this drug that should be resolved before Vermont jumps into the arena in such a big way. We already have authorized medical marijuana, decriminalized simple possession so the arguments by the zealous users of marijuana that speak of imprisonment and ruination of a user’s record do not exist. The emotion should be taken out of the equation and your vote should be based on facts, primarily from medical, law enforcement, legal and educational experts.

There is no need to rush passage of this legalization bill and it is likely that we are all going to get stung if we do. If it really is a good thing to do we can do it later. If we are rushing just to beat Massachusetts or some other local state or want to get it passed before there is a political change in Vermont, then honesty should tell you this is the wrong way to go.

Please contact me, Bob Orleck by email at bob@ussorleck.com or P.O. Box 174, Randolph, VT 05060. Phone 802-728-9806.

Links to helpful websites and articles

  1. This is the current position of the White House on the various aspects of marijuana including legalization issues, danger issues and clearly is a positon that legalization is wrong and bad for our citizens. The position here should be dispositive and I would suggest that all legislators read this very carefully. It is only one page. Then go to the website that is cited that gives you the most current information on the matter according to federal law. The document makes it very clear that what the states are doing with respect to legalization does not change the law that possession and use of marijuana violates federal law and is a serious crime. https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/issues-content/marijuana_and_public_health_one_pager_-_final.pdf
  2. Smart Approaches to Marijuana website. A great source and if you want a real surprise take a look at the chart you will see on the first page that lists the National and State organizations who do NOT support the legalization of marijuana. http://sam-vt.org/
  3. http://www.vtdigger.org has done considerable coverage on both sides of the marijuana legalization issue. The articles and commentaries are listed in a posted archive that you can review to find a relevant document or if you wish to review the comments of readers. http://vtdigger.org/tag/marijuana/
  4.  Recent report by SAM on three years of legalization in Colorado and Washington. http://vtdigger.org/2016/02/18/new-sam-report-documents-impact-of-three-years-of-marijuana-legalization-in-colorado-and-washington/
  5. This is a health assessment report from our own State of Vermont on the dangers of marijuana use. 83 page Health Assessment report of the Vermont Department of Health. http://healthvermont.gov/pubs/healthassessments/documents/HIA_marijuana_regulation_in_vermont_201601.pdf

Fifty Three Items to think about before voting on S.241.

1. What is driving the rush to get this so called legalization of marijuana bill passed this session? Our state leaders, seeing the prospect of a political change, are pushing not for the legalization of marijuana as much as the commercialization of marijuana. The proponents see this as a “now or not for a long time” chance to get this all passed. As a result they are trying to rush this through in spite of all the clear arguments to the contrary that shows we must slow this down and not rush it.

2. Marijuana use will increase if this bill is passed. This fact is even supported by the figures provided by Senator Benning, a sponsor of the bill. So there will be the stores that the Rand Study projects could generate as much as $300,000,000 in sales. Senator Benning says there is $225,000,000 in sales in Vermont now. Not sure how he knows that since I doubt that drug dealers report their income but even if so it far exceeds the drugs that will be sold under the new law in the stores and that does not take into account the illegal drug sales that will continue as well.

3. So, will use rise if bill passes? From the above it sounds like it or it sounds like people will be exporting it to other states. When anyone over the age of 21 can buy it at the corner store youth use will rise. It’ll be sold downstream at a much higher rate than alcohol or tobacco. It’s more socially accepted, harder to track, easier to use and transport, and much more fun. Teens test the limit and take risks. Even if one were to accept a reduction in black marked marijuana this means that teens will be smoking marijuana with THC levels far in excess of what’s available today and they will be doing it more frequently.

4. Contrary to the claim of its proponents, this bill will not reduce use.

5. Contrary to the claim of its proponents, this bill will not do away with the black market. In fact competitively it will put the illegal seller in a better position to compete.

6. Governor’s Shumlin’s goal of eliminating the black market through low taxing of marijuana: The goal of the governor to eliminate the black market through low taxing of marijuana sales is folly. Governor Shumlin in his State of the State message set forth five goals for legislation legalizing marijuana. The most ridiculous of those goals was the one that envisioned the eradication of the black market and drug dealers by keeping the tax low enough to drive them out of business. No further comment needs to be made to show how stupid that goal is!

7. Edibles: These can be a serious health hazard to children who will not see the danger in a brownie or a piece of candy. Sure the legislators including Senator Benning who said to me personally that the legislation does not allow the sale of edibles and yet according to a report in vtdigger “Nonprofit medical dispensaries that now are the only legal outlet for the purchase of marijuana would be allowed to become for profit entities and would be the only source of certain pot products, including tinctures and edibles.” Read it again. It looks like edibles could be in Vermont sooner than later. Also the legislation does establish a Commission to study edibles. Why would they study edibles unless they were considering selling them? The legislation (as currently written) does not include edibles. Are we being deceived? If we are not going to sell edibles why is the Commission that is established in the legislation studying and making recommendations about edibles?

8. The black market will be encouraged by this legislation. The high fees for licenses, the requirement to grow under lock and key, the prohibition on edibles (right now at least and which made up 40% of Colorado’s sales), and the high tax rate will force establishments to charge high prices in order to show a profit. They will not undersell the existing and cheaper black market. There will also be a black market sector made up of existing home-growers who see no need to get a license or pay for chain link fencing.

9. Colorado’s experience is that the illegal market did not disappear with legalization.

10. More on the illegal drug dealers being encouraged. Why is state sanctioned marijuana not a negative entry into the market for illegal drug dealers? The approach that Vermont is currently considering establishes licensing for growers and stores to sell the product so you can clearly see it is not just about a simple legalization. There will be a 25% tax on the product and high fees for growers and there will be high overhead costs related to the establishment of stores and the attendant costs coming from property maintenance. There will also be employee salary, benefit and other such costs. Why do the proponents then think this will drive out the black market? The illegal drug dealer works out of his/her car trunk without the burden of taxes or store overhead. The dealer will welcome the competition for it will make his product quite attractive to those inclined to buy.

11. Law Enforcement Raises Road Safety Resources as Pot Concern. http://vtdigger.org/2016/03/28/law-enforcement-raises-road-safety-resources-as-pot-concerns/ Because this is such an important piece to consider in determining whether to legalize or not and especially to authorize stores to sell marijuana or not, bullet points to the key statements by law enforcement leaders are presented here that come from the article.

Key law enforcement figures raised concerns about road safety, many testifying that legalizing marijuana would increase the number of impaired drivers on Vermont roads. Keith Flynn, who heads the Department of Public Safety, also emphasized that legalization could be a big drain on Vermont’s law enforcement resources, which are already stretched thin in the face of increasing opiate use and addiction.

The head of the Vermont State Police said much the same thing. “We are overwhelmed at this point,” said Col. Matt Birmingham of the prevalence of opiates in Vermont. Birmingham told the committee he sees many public safety issues around legalization of marijuana and has concerns about how enforceable the law would be. He said the state police are not staffed to be able to accommodate an increase in impaired drivers that would follow legalization. It would be a big task for a small state like Vermont to stamp out the black market in marijuana on its own, he said. Legalization in Vermont could have a spillover effect on metropolitan areas in neighboring states and across the border in Canada.

Former Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling said he sees marijuana as a “peripheral issue.” He testified against the bill, saying the time is not right. The pace, he said, “seems beyond frenzied to me.” Schirling said legalization of marijuana would burden the state in trying to address not only highway safety but educational outcomes and health care costs as well. The former chief, who retired from the helm of the Burlington Police Department last year, said he saw thousands of examples of marijuana use in the course of his three-decade career “that simply do not match the narrative that is being spun to you in support of legalization.”

Transportation Secretary Chris Cole cited statistics from 2015. Of the 68 drivers who were involved in fatal crashes that year, one-third was impaired by some substance. Half of those drivers were found to have marijuana — either alone or in combination with another substance — in their systems. Some people are already buying and using marijuana illegally, and they may be driving. Others might begin buying and using it if it were legal. But Cole said the biggest question mark in considering marijuana legalization is the market made up of people who will come from out of state. “We don’t know how many people are going to come to our state to buy marijuana legally,” Cole said. “We just don’t know.”

12. Drugged drivers (Tourists) “The legislation legalizes marijuana effective January 2, 2018. In the first six months of the fiscal year, a 25 percent tax would generate between $5.6 million and $8.7 million, according to estimates from the Joint Fiscal Office.” This is deceptive because while this sounds like a lot of money if they were to give us an analysis that included “drug tourists” from Montreal, Boston, New York, etc., the amount of money would be obscene and our state will be known as a “drug mecca”. Just imagine all the drugged drivers and skiers. Do this and they will come! The Rand Study indicates the revenue from Drug Tourists could result in revenues being as high as $75,000,000. The sad part is the administration is pretending this is not going to happen when in fact it is exactly what they are planning for and want.

13. Costs related to drug tourism and the draw of homeless will increase the costs related to crime, Medicaid and other state services.

14. The State of Vermont could arguably be held liable in a civil case for death or injury caused by a drugged driver who bought their marijuana from a state authorized store. It is only a logical extension and we know the innovative abilities of lawyers to find a cause of action. The cause of action will flow from the reason that the state acted illegally under federal law. Not only that the passage of this legislation will be going contrary to our own State Police and seems contrary to our own Department of Health as well as many other national and state organizations that have strong factual reasons for their opposition. Lawyers see the state with deep pockets and will pursue that and will use our own agencies opposition against us.

15. Blood, breath or saliva testing. Tests now are not able to do more than detect whether drug has been used sometime in a definable past. No way to determine impairment levels. If marijuana is legal this even complicates the matter for law enforcement. See article and comments in vtdigger article http://vtdigger.org/2016/03/30/house-panel-explores-roadside-saliva-testing/?utm_source=VTDigger+Subscribers+and+Donors&utm_campaign=6139355fa0-Weekly+Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dc3c5486db-6139355fa0-405544681

16. Big money interests will push for increased use of marijuana. The high fees and taxes combined with cultivation requirements for year-round production (indoor facilities, heat, artificial lighting, pumped ground water, fungicides and insecticides) will require very large investments up front. As with the tobacco industry, the marijuana industry will need to target teens and young adults to survive, because people who start young are most likely to become heavy users. They will need new customers once these stores are established.

17. Marijuana negatively affects brain development in children and young adults. There is little doubt that marijuana is harmful to some brains, especially developing ones, and the human brain is developing up to age 25.

18. Student use will cause short term memory and motivation loss.

19. Legalization is a bad signal to send to our youth about drug use.

20. Second hand pot smoke. The bill does not prohibit the use of marihuana in the presence of those less than 21 years of age. It should be added to the bill!

21. Legalization sends a message that implies safety when even the proponents tell us there are dangers from marijuana. Their suggestion that legalization and regulation will reduce those dangers is not borne out by the facts.

22. Drug impaired drivers will kill and maim more Vermont citizens.

23. Marijuana is proven to worsen mental illness in mentally ill people who use marijuana. How can one additional young person suffering from schizophrenia worth any amount of potential financial gain for the state, much less psychotropic effects some find recreational.

24. Mental health workers issue: Where are we going to find enough qualified mental health workers to fill the openings? Trained practitioners have not been applying for jobs in Vermont. The state hospital and our regional mental health centers are understaffed and overloaded already, while many beds remain empty because there is no one to provide the necessary care to one more patient. We can’t even fill the positions that are already open. This law will lead to more need for mental health services.

25. High THC marijuana can lead to an increased incidence of, earlier and more severe psychosis, and actual schizophrenia in youth who are already predisposed due to genetic and sometimes other risk factors.

26. Possession of marijuana is still a violation of Federal Law. Even though the current Federal Administration is not enforcing the law, a change of administrations in Washington could reverse that overnight. Considering the investment alone. This would be an enormous cost for the state to face. The complex administrative details that would be in place would have to be reversed and it is incalculable what the financial burden of such would be. The stores that sell marijuana would have to close and the jobs in the industry would be lost. Vermont would have no excuse for they are gambling with openly violating the “rule of law’.

27. The administration projects that the total cost of legalizing pot in the next fiscal year would be $2.21 million across the departments of Public Safety, Health, Tax and Agriculture, according to Finance and Management Commissioner Andy Pallito. The annualized cost of implementation could run as high as $12 million. As time goes on those costs of administration will grow and what if the federal government revises its position on enforcing the federal law violation created by the legislation legalizing marijuana and establishing stores? The result could be devastating.

28. Revenue gain long term is illusory. Other close states may in fact beat Vermont to the punch in legalizing. I.e.: Massachusetts

29. Legalizing some marijuana and not legalizing other forms such as tinctures and edibles will set up market demand to be supplied by the black market for those items. Thus the intent to reduce the illegal sellers will actually encourage a niche market for edibles and tinctures.

30. The establishment of stores will create a monopoly for a few who will gain great wealth at the expense of the poor who use such drugs.

31. “Gov. Peter Shumlin, meanwhile, is all for legalization. Shumlin has long supported the regulation and taxation of pot and has received major campaign contributions from the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization outfit based in Washington, D.C.” http://vtdigger.org/2015/12/29/session-preview-2015-marijuana-legalizations-last-best-chance/ No more need be said about that!

32. The establishment of stores to sell marijuana is crony capitalism at its worst. This is not about a simple legalization of recreational marijuana for adults. It is about much more. It is about large corporate interests controlling a new cash cow industry which will lead by necessity to marketing and increased usage. It will lead to “drug tourists” coming to Vermont and driving drugged while here thus increasing the rate of drug impaired driving accidents and death. It will lead to the message of hypocrisy to youth that drugs are OK for adults over 21 but not for us. “Sure!” they will say!

33. If marijuana is legalized it will be commercialized, advertised, and normalized like the tobacco and alcohol industry has done. Both of these substances are very dangerous so what makes us believe the same process won’t be applied to marijuana who the proponents claim is not as dangerous?

34. Setting up stores to sell marijuana that will be sold at a higher price than illegal sellers charge will not reduce sales to locals by illegal drug dealers but will lure out-of-state drug tourists to come, use and drive impaired on our roads.

35. Establishing Vermont as a “drug mecca” will discourage some industry that is looking for a state to locate their business. This will have a negative connotation to many who would look to establish a business here or to bring their family here.

36. The plan to gain revenue from the sale of marijuana to fund treatment for those who use it and to fund enforcement for those who use it and drive and to prevent people from using the drug is clearly ill thought.

37. Will another New England state beat Vermont to the punch in legalizing marijuana? “Vermont governor says marijuana edibles make for ‘bad pot bill’ in Mass.” https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2016/03/28/vermont-governor-says-marijuana-edibles-mean-bad-pot-bill-in-mass Doesn’t look like this discussion matters if MA passes a legal Marijuana law (On the ballot for Nov) – all that tax money the state wants is lost for a very short drive south or southeast. Sounds like the same issue we have with the NH liquor store, cigarette taxes, etc.

38. Top Vermont Doctors warn against legalizing marijuana: http://vtdigger.org/2016/01/29/top-vermont-doctors-warn-lawmakers-about-legal-pot/ Nationally, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association have all made public statements opposing the legalization of marijuana.

39. Does marijuana put people in risk of other addictions? Current and prestigious report shows dire relationships of marijuana to other addictions: JAMA Comprehensive study showing marijuana use is tied to nicotine, alcohol and drug dependence. Journal of the America Medical Association (JAMA) on Feb 17, 2016, reported on a study of close to 35,000 people (approximately half men and half women) that shows marijuana use is tied to nicotine, alcohol and drug dependence. The study is mentioned in this link at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-02/tjnj-wir021516.php and there is a link to the JAMA abstract regarding the study.

What is sad about this is that this is a very definitive broad based study that will be ignored by the deniers that marijuana puts people at risk of other addictions.

40. Much of what drives the public discussion is “self-indulgence and personal gain”. A careful review of the comments to articles in vt.digger.org shows this very thing. Just look at the comments after an opinion piece by a mother who had lost a child to drugs. One very insensitive comment was even deleted by the publisher because it was so insensitive. http://vtdigger.org/2016/03/10/linda-mulley-reconsider-marijuana-legalization/?utm_source=VTDigger+Subscribers+and+Donors&utm_campaign=26538bcef0-Weekly+Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dc3c5486db-26538bcef0-405544681 A review of the comments and the thumbs down and up will show the mind-set of many of those advocating for legalizing of marijuana.

41. 20% of the customers make up 80% of the sales but the medical, relational and societal costs of that use by that 20% are great on the remaining 80%.

42. Proponents say it is hard to die from marijuana overdose. If the only measure of a drug’s safety was it having a LD (lethal dose), then any side effect short of death is an invalid consideration in whether a drug should be legalized. It is significant enough that mental health conditions are worsened, children suffer brain development problems and people do die on the road as the result of drug impaired driving. There are many other reasons why marijuana should be and is at presently illegal to possess and sell according to federal law.

43. Prohibition argument is phony. To say not allowing legal pot for all “adults” is prohibition is analogous to saying we have antibiotic, chemotherapy, narcotic and all prescription drugs prohibition. So what is the difference making a medicinal substance that has a side effect of causing schizophrenia non-prescription and making all medications non-prescription for those considered “adults”?

44. More on prohibition: We are talking about allowance of marijuana by the state here not prohibition. Recognizing that all the dangers are real the bill proponents think that this bill will reduce them. If we were talking about a simple legalization for individuals to grow and use a small amount for personal use, while not ideal, would be better than state authorized sales. Prohibition prohibits those without connections from getting something. Legalization opens access. Throwing your hands up in “failure” is a horribly weak argument.

45. Drug impaired driving in Colorado- In 2014, the first year that marijuana stores were open in Colorado, the state suffered a 32% increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths in just one year; marijuana-related traffic deaths made up 20% of all traffic deaths that year, while the number of THC-impaired drivers, as determined by active marijuana blood tests, increased by 45%. Washington State reported almost a doubling of active marijuana blood tests in impaired drivers since they legalized recreational marijuana. Our state police are already shorthanded – by as many as 16 troopers – due to budget cuts and age attrition. The state cannot afford the added troopers that legal recreational marijuana would require.

46. Is it easier for children to get marijuana than alcohol? Marijuana is not easier for kids to get than alcohol, and our high school use rates reflect this: according to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 30% of Vermont high school students report drinking, while only 22% report using marijuana. Why the difference? Alcohol is legal, thus more available and perceived as less risky. In Colorado, in the first two years of legalization, high school use rates went up by 20% and college-age rates went up 17%.

47. Black market in Colorado is still functioning in spite of legal sales: See “If you think Colorado’s legalization of marijuana retail sales killed the black market, think again.” http://www.cnbcprime.com/marijuana/video/pot-after-hours-the-black-market/

48. Conflict of Interest-Senator Zuckerman-This bill should include the following provision: Any state employee and elected official must wait a minimum of 5 years after leaving state government before having any involvement in this industry.

49. Legalization and the 25% tax is really a tax on the poor. Just as with lottery tickets. The poor buy more and the taxes on the sale take a larger percentage of their income. Same with beer and cigarettes and gasoline taxes. The rich can afford to pay such taxes but every time the taxes are raised on these items the poor get hit the hardest.

50. No homegrown, at least at the moment. “The legislation does not allow the sale of homegrown pot…” That is because the state does not want any competition. But there will be an effort to add homegrown especially if the proponents see the need to gain allies in their push for commercialized stores to raise the dirty revenue money they so much want. There will be an attempt to expand the bill to include home growing as well as keeping the commercial stores. The current bill is a far cry from the simple marijuana legalization bill that many try to make us believe that S.241 is about and they will be willing to add more in order to make it happen for them. The Vermont Libertarian Party by press release is calling for just that: http://vtdigger.org/2016/04/01/vermont-libertarian-party-urges-vermont-house-to-add-home-growing-back-into-legalization-bill/#respond Even though the addition of homegrown pot will add complex law enforcement issues to the mix they will do it if they need to do it because greed works that way.

51. The sales will have to be cash. Since this law will create commerce that is still in violation of federal law, banks can’t or won’t provide financial services. This will create a dangerous situation where large amounts of cash have to be handled at the stores and somehow processed to pay bills and the like of the stores. Imagine the criminal temptation that this will bring to minds of some of our less than fine citizens. There is some indication that VSECU has signaled that they would allow marijuana dispensaries to open checking and savings accounts. It sure is not the Savings and Loan concept that we would have seen from George Bailey’s institution in the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” movie. It is a shame that VSECU is potentially making this legislation work. Even so the cash problem will exist since customers buying will have to buy with cash (no credit cards will be allowed) and the stores will have to handle large amounts of cash to be taken to the credit union even if that works out. Will highway robbery be in our future? This should be enough of a problem to put a halt on the whole matter of stores to sell marijuana.

52. Personal liberty and privacy. The argument goes something like this: “No one, no government, no ruler, or authority should have the right to tell me what I can and cannot put in my body if I am not hurting another living being by doing it. It’s really very simple. We have no freedom if we have no choice.” The response: Not every action that a person wants to do or substance that he wants to ingest is covered by freedom under our system of laws. A person cannot go into a theater and yell “fire” and rely on the 1st Amendment freedom of speech to do so. With freedom comes responsibility. Fundamental liberty is not freedom to do whatever one wants without regard to the destructiveness of that behavior. What about “child pornography”. Surely no one would argue that this is a protected free speech freedom. Government’s main role is to protect citizens and in order to do that certain acts have to be prevented. The public good requires the limitation on what people “want to do”. If it is detrimental to the public the government has a legitimate role to play to prevent that act. There are no Constitutional limitations on the federal government restricting harmful chemicals and exercising its role in determining if a drug is safe and effective and allowed for public consumption.

53. Do we want to be a drug mecca? Instead of tracking toward a third-world corrupt country designation, Vermont could aspire to become a well-respected state, for having good laws and a healthy population. http://www.alternet.org/environment/thinking-about-ethical-travel-destination-beaten-path-here-are-top-10-places-visit-now

Narratives that might be of help for an overall evaluation of the legislation.

  1. The Folly of the new Drug Stores! Some general points on the folly of setting up stores to sell marijuana to collect 25% on the sales so they can prevent people from using it. Now really, does that make any sense? The same silliness exists for the rest of the spending smokescreen. Sell it to them to use and with the tax money help treat them! Boy that is logical. For sure it will increase the number of people using from the stores and the already existing illegal market and we will get more drugged driving so we will use the money we get from taxes on selling what is increasing the drugged driving to increase law enforcement to prevent drugged driving. How can this make any sense to a thinking person? Not only that, the 25% tax and high overhead of the stores will insure that current users stay with the illegal providers. So again the silliness of saying this law will help eliminate the black market. It won’t! The black market will welcome the entry of the stores into the Vermont market. What the legislators won’t acknowledge is that they are really counting on the drug tourists who will be the ones to drop the dollars that will generate the tax revenue. The tax will only work when these folks come from Boston, New York and Montreal and they know it. And you can be sure when the details of how the money will be spent is worked out, it will be a far cry from the promotional formula they are touting now. One thing you can be certain is the money will be used to grow the bureaucracy.
  2. Senator Benning is a sponsor of the bill. This is a critique of an opinion piece that Senator Benning did for vtdigger. It is offered here for the instructive points made. “Senator Benning: I have heard personally and also the recorded version of your story about what led you on this crusade to legalize marijuana and set up stores to sell it. I heard nothing in those conversations that directly addressed the medical, law enforcement and educational misgivings and facts about the damage that will be done by this legislation except in generalities. Nothing specific that takes the position of the medical organizations and refutes them factually. I have not seen any information from you that negate the obvious result of this bill that will create more availability, more people consuming whether they are local or drug tourists and thus more driving under the influence and resulting in increased death and injury on the highways. Nothing specific at all! You should be addressing this matter factually.

Your words here make it sound as if this were a simple legalization of small amounts of marijuana. It is not. The establishment of stores where estimates are that up to $300,000,000 in sales will be generated is no small thing. If we reach that sales level that will have far outdone the sales you say are occurring illegally now on the street and street sales will continue as well. You have not adequately addressed why you would expect current users to forsake where they get their marijuana now to buy in a highly regulated, expensive overhead store whose product has a 25% tax added to it. To say that folks will want and buy from the stores because they will get a more predictable safer product is unrealistic. So many folks who imbibe do not care about the source. In fact imbibers partake of other substances from glue, allergy medicines, and cough syrups to food extracts in order to get high. The drug tourists, with a lot of money to spend will surely go to the fancy, trendy stores but you are deceiving yourself if you believe your legislation will undermine the black market and do away with illegal sellers. In fact the kind of competition that the stores will offer will most likely be welcome by those dealers who can see that they can easily compete.

Where public safety is at stake, I am surprised you would be moved by a poll that supposedly shows the public supports legalization. Polls can say anything and can be wrong. I doubt if most who participated in those polls understand that your legislation is setting up a marketing system that will create stores most likely larger and generating more sales than local pharmacies. The visual on this is obscene in the minds of all I have spoken to and the result is clear that Vermont will become a drug mecca and legitimate business could well be deterred from coming here all at the same time that our young people are leaving because of the loss of opportunity.

Just because many will come on and give you a thumbs up also does not mean there is acceptance by the general community. Folks I know are seriously concerned about their safety and the environment they are raising their children. They are busy living their lives and trying to make a living instead of coming on websites to promote and give thumbs ups to those who are doing their bidding to legalize a drug that is still illegal under federal law. Your role as a legislator is to do no harm to the public but in fact to provide laws that protect and enable people to go about living is a safe and productive manner. This law benefits a certain number of people but not all citizens and I believe you are sworn to represent us all. Strange also that you, as a lawyer, would choose to ignore the federal law because you disagree with it! This bodes poorly for our constitutional system of governance.

You give lip service that minors not consume marijuana. But even the Commissioner of Public Safety, who seems obviously conflicted in the need to respond to the Governor or to his own law enforcement staff who oppose this bill has serious thoughts about what message this bill is sending to children. The Vermont Department of Health in its 83 page report sets forth many reasons why not to pass this bill but I hear nothing directly from you that refutes the points made in that report. The big concern for them and educators, physicians and mothers and fathers, is the increased availability and the message this is sending. No amount of education is going to counter the impression by youth that if it is good enough for mom and dad that it’s good enough for me.

You say “The “legalization” part is actually quite limited and doesn’t take place until January of 2018” It is not “quite limited”. If you want to limit it then take out the provision for stores being created to bring in up to $75,000,000 in revenue according to the Rand Study. In the final analysis you do want the revenue to allow you to further experiment in other areas. To say this money will help fight opiates is folly. It will increase the bureaucracy and we all know how poorly government does in solving any problem. When the dollar signs fade away the costs to fix what is broken by this law will put more, not less burden on the taxpayer.

Finally Senator, you know full well that what you call “quite limited” in describing the legislation is likely to progress further as the bill makes its way through the house. The other opinion piece in today’s vtdigger is evidence of this. Are you willing to say that any further changes to this bill to expand it beyond “limited” will be opposed by you?

You stated your reason for pursuing this was “personal”. That really is not a good reason to do it and your defense of the legislation in the light of medical facts, law enforcement facts and educational facts that all show how bad this will be for children in citizens, is quite lacking.

Your final words are that “S.241 recognizes public reality and legitimate concerns. Let’s dispel fear and support it.” Reality about its use and desire by some “yes” but you do not address legitimate concerns of we the people. You are only addressing the concerns of a special interest group and like you said “to you its personal”.

3. How much sense does this bill really make when you stop to think about it all? Marijuana stores in Vermont to sell it to raise revenue by taxing it so we can treat and keep people from using it and beefing up law enforcement to deal with the problems it brings. Vermont’s gone wacky again and it will cost lives!

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
 Posted by at 14:31
Apr 052016
 

The following is a response by Bob Orleck to an opinion by Al Boright at http://vtdigger.org/2016/04/03/al-boright-pot-prohibition-a-bad-law/?utm_source=VTDigger+Subscribers+and+Donors&utm_campaign=b6c18ccbd6-Weekly+Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dc3c5486db-b6c18ccbd6-405544681

Response by Bob Orleck:

Mr. Boright’s attempt at humor with his “Let freedom ring. Let my people … grow” is as offensive as burning our American flag. Not every action that a person wants to do or substance that he wants to ingest is covered by the freedoms we enjoy in America. A person cannot go into a theater and yell “fire” and rely on the 1st Amendment freedom of speech to do so. If it is detrimental to the public the government has a legitimate role to play to prevent that act. To argue that our founding fathers intended that people’s desire to smoke pot is a freedom that is inherent in the founding documents is ludicrous.

To further the offense, he claims that Vermont Veterans died for the kind of freedom he speaks of. Mr. Boright owes an apology to all veterans who served and especially those who paid with their lives. Have you served Mr. Boright?

His “let my people…grow” comment also shows little knowledge on his part about this particular bill. It does not let people “grow” marijuana. To the contrary if they do the state will crack down on them and put them in jail because they are reducing the State of Vermont’s cartel take.

Finally I want to point to his ridiculous hypothetical of a daily charge for a year of possession and then even longer. It is so silly that it is childish in effect. Seems he is trying to prove the current law is so bad that he wants to equate potential penalty for possession of marijuana with murder. He does this by telling us the number of years that person would potentially serve if charged with the crime and given the maximum penalty each and every day for a year or even longer. Mr. Boright, what about the person or persons killed on our highways by marijuana impaired drivers? With this bill will come drug tourists and increased use that will result in more people dying because of them when they are impaired and drive.

The penalty for these dead citizens is exacted each and every day for an eternity and there is no chance for a pardon after they are gone.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
 Posted by at 15:10