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.