By Guy Page
Research shows marijuana legalization will lead to more traffic highway deaths, Vermont’s top cop told the Governor’s Marijuana Advisory Commission Nov. 14.
Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson, chair of the commission’s Roadway Safety Subcommittee, shared the latest academic and professional research about pot legalization and highway safety. Speaking in a “just the facts” tone, he delivered his summary:
“When you have increased use of marijuana or legalization of marijuana, you’re gonna see more fatalities on your roadways. I think the data does support that, and I know there are different views on that, but I would feel comfortable taking that to a jury and trying to convince them of that.”
Compiled from peer-reviewed academic research and reports by state government and non-governmental entities like AAA, the Roadway Safety Subcommittee report concludes:
1. “Acute cannabis intoxication by drivers creates a significant risk for motor vehicle crashes…The higher the blood THC level, the higher the motor vehicle risk crash.”
2. In Colorado, marijuana-related traffic deaths when a driver tested positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 deaths in 2013 (year of legalization) to 125 deaths in 2016.
3. In Colorado, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 66 percent during the four years after legalization, compared to the four years before. At the same time all traffic deaths increased 16 percent.
4. In 2009, Colorado marijuana-related traffic deaths involving drivers testing positive for marijuana represented 9 percent of all traffic deaths. By 2016, that share had more than doubled to 21 percent.
5. After Colorado legalization, DUI drivers testing positive for marijuana increased 63 percent.
6. In the 30 months before pot was decriminalized in Vermont on July 1, 2013, there were 33 fatal accidents in which drivers were THC-positive. In the 30 months afterwards, there were 44. The total number of fatal and non-fatal crashes in this category rose from 71 to 91.
7. Crime rates for burglary and robbery also have risen significantly in “depenalized” jurisdictions in the U.S. and abroad.
In December, the Commission will hear about the status of roadside drug testing for marijuana intoxication. The Commission’s first report is due by mid-January, 2018. Its final report is due December 2018.
Vermont Medical Society publishes resolutions opposing legal pot, “ethical” assisted death
Click here to read the Vermont Medical Society statements on its Nov. 4 resolutions opposing marijuana legalization and refusing to consider physician-assisted death an “ethical” choice for doctors.
As adopted, the assisted-death resolution merely states the obvious: it’s legal in Vermont. An earlier version calling it “ethical” was nixed.
Governor plans education summit in December
Gov. Scott plans to hold an education summit in December to build support for closing the estimated $50 million revenue gap in the state education fund. One proposal already aired by Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe: make Vermont’s smallest-in-the-nation teacher/student ratio more in line with other states.
Jobless rate under 3 percent for 2nd straight month; State government shows biggest job loss
According to the Vermont Department of Labor, the state’s jobless rate was 2.9 percent in October, matching September’s figure. Unemployment was lowest in the White River Junction area (1.8 percent) and highest in Derby (3.4 percent). By job sector, the biggest gains were in arts, entertainment, and recreation, and the biggest losses were in State Government (down 900 jobs for a 4.5 percent loss).
The following are the largest non-government employers of full-time workers, according to the November Vermont Business Magazine: 1. UVM Medical Center, 7,574. 2. UVM, 3,729. 3. Global Foundries, 3,000. 4. Rutland Regional Medical Center, 1,650. 5. Shaw’s Supermarkets, 1,600 (16 stores). 6. Keurig Green Mountain, 1,500. 7. Central Vermont Medical Center, 1,400. 8. Walmart, 1,273 (six stores). 9. Jay Peak Resort, 1,200. 10. Middlebury College, 1,187.
Musical chairs in State House press corps …
Neal Goswami (formerly of Rutland Herald/Times Argus) will cover the State House for WCAX, replacing Kyle Midura, who is now working the station’s Washington, D.C. beat. Business/healthcare reporter Erin Mansfield has left VT Digger — no replacement named, yet. Taylor Dobbs, late of VPR, was hired by Seven Days to take over the State House duties of Terri Hallenbeck, who will be writing for the alumni office at Middlebury College.
… and in Senate, too
Franklin County Sen. Dustin Degree has resigned his seat following an appointment to a workplace development post in the Scott administration. Rep. Corey Parent of St. Albans is considered the leading candidate to fill Degree’s seat. Appointed to work with Degree is Sarah Buxton, a former Democrat legislator from Tunbridge who lost her seat to Republican David Ainsworth in a close, highly contested 2016 election.
One senator who won’t be leaving is Deb Ingram (Chittenden County) of Williston. She was arrested in October for driving under the influence. In a Nov. 1 VT Digger news story she said she is an alcoholic actively committed to recovery in a 12-step program. She will plead guilty but will not resign her seat.
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, Divestment Facts, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Church at Prison.