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.
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