State Headliners: As more politicians back pot, state’s doctors warn of steep cost in pain and dollars

By Guy Page

Two days ago, both major party candidates for Vermont Attorney General affirmed support for commercial sale of marijuana. On the same day, the assembled Vermont Medical Society voted against it, saying it will increase human suffering and state budgetary pressures and do little to hinder the black market.

In a Saturday, October 27 debate in Montpelier, incumbent  AG TJ Donovan (D) and Republican challenger Janssen Wilhoit said they support “tax and regulate” marijuana legalization, VT Digger reports.  They join both major party candidates for lieutenant governor (David Zuckerman-D and Don Turner –R) and gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist (D). Only incumbent Gov. Phil Scott remains opposed, pending the findings of Vermont Marijuana Commission report set to be released in December.

The VMS 10/27 resolution states its opposition and warns against increased illnesses, addictions, poisonings, and accident trauma likely to follow in the wake of commercialization. In particular the VMS warns:

  • Legalization leads to more consumption. “Increased availability of marijuana and normalization of marijuana use have great potential to increase youth and young adult use rates,” and notes “statistically significant increases among young adults in Colorado since that state approved commercial sales of recreational marijuana.”
  • Pot revenue won’t be enough to fix the societal harm legalization creates, much less benefit other state programs. “State and local governments [nationwide] already spend over $90 billion annually on the social costs related to substance abuse and addiction, far more than the amounts projected to be raised by taxation of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana combined.”

“Vermont Tax Commissioner Kaj Sampson has stated that Vermont can expect $15 million to $20 million of yearly revenue from retail cannabis, which will largely cover the cost of increased government oversight and may include funding for school-based prevention and highway safety but may not be sufficient to cover or be directed at all impacts on the health care, mental health and social services systems.”

  • Black market will continue. “Active black markets have continued their activity in all states that have legalized commercialized recreational marijuana, undermining states’ ability to benefit from tax revenue.”
  • The Vermont commercial pot industry will need and seek to create new Vermont addicts. “Daily and near daily users account for 80% of all marijuana consumption; suppliers can be expected to focus on creating and maintaining these heavy users.”

In a related story, a new Colorado study finds that babies in utero consume marijuana for at least six weeks after pregnant mothers consume marijuana just once. Marijuana, unlike alcohol, lingers in the human bloodstream.

“For physicians who see cannabis-associated birth complications and long-term brain development concerns with children, the research is another step to try to square growing public nonchalance about marijuana with medical guidelines about use,” Modern Healthcare reports.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of EPA/U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

3 thoughts on “State Headliners: As more politicians back pot, state’s doctors warn of steep cost in pain and dollars

  1. So we’ve adopted the big city social programs that have decimated all those families who are entrapped in the generational poverty machine, and now we’ll adopt a favored drug of the city.

    And why?

    We are following the movie script in Breaking Bad.

    In the movie the school teacher has not paid for inexpensive life insurance, is diagnosed with terminal illness and needs to raise $300k.

    In Vermont, retirement plans were not funded, money was misspent, we are diagnosed with financial mismanagement. So now we too are becoming drug dealers.

    Can’t live within our means…nope, could never consider this.

    MJ reduces sperm count and messes with the genetic code within the sperm

    MJ smoked by youth messes with brain and social development

    MJ stays within the system for many, many days, for men, for breast feeding women, it’s not good for pregnant women.

    Yes I know it can be used responsibly, but clearly there are issues. Vermont does have an alcohol and drug problem. Ask DCF.

    The arguments are so lame, we’ll legalize it to be safer and out of schools. Seriously how are you going to tell one dime bag from another? Put you black market in a state package. The proponents clearly know that it’s a serious problem based upon all the advertising at the movie theatres and television.

  2. The State’s doctors are right to advise against commercialization of recreational marijuana. The Colorado experience found their legislation inadequate for medical cannabis purposes because it only addressed THC but not CBD. The difference being that CBD, produced and used as a concentrated oil for medicinal purposes but not to “get high”, requires a much larger mass of cannabis plant material to manufacture to the point where the required number of plants for even modest production by individuals exceeds the legal limits on growers. Vermont has made the same mistake. Therefore, recreational, some say irresponsible use, is legal, while medicinal purposes are restricted to near extinction. The remainder falls to CBD produced from hemp, a cannabis plant containing very low concentrations of THC (<0.3%), which is legal, not regulated and is independent of marijuana legalization.

    Bottom line, much ado about nothing of redeeming value, except a greedy state legislature pushing a drug on its people to balance its bloated and severely overspent budget, while simultaneously crying over the harm caused by narcotic drugs.
    Those who know about drug addiction and recovery know "a drug is a drug". For those to whom these substances are problematic, the state is as much a drug dealer of cannabis as the opiate dealer moving heroin interstate.

  3. Our leftist politicians only want the votes and do not care about the health and welfare of our state citizens……….normalizing pot usage only makes for increased usage as well as all the health issues that come with the increased usage, many that we do not even know about yet. Our underage youth will increase consumption with the excuse that it is legal not realizing that their are severe mental impact on their developing brains……..we are just setting ourselves up for more healthcare issues and we can barely help people now in this system. Why burden it even more at this time………

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