By Guy Page
Christine Hallquist, Democratic nominee for governor, supports tax-and-regulate marijuana legalization. “Enough research has been done,” she told pro-legalization website Heady Vermont Aug. 3. Tax-and-regulate is needed “with fentanyl-laced marijuana making its way into Vermont,” she added, but did not explain how legalization would help.
The following is her entire statement:
I would work with the legislature to ensure that a tax and regulate system was passed into law in my first term. I think that enough research has been done and enough systems implemented, that I don’t really feel the need to dictate a specific system. Rather, I believe it would be my job to work collaboratively with all stakeholders – legislators, interest groups, etc. to make sure the system is a reality. We don’t need more studies on implementation, we need action. The prospective tax revenue aside, I believe that this is a public health and safety issue. With fentanyl laced marijuana making its way into Vermont, we must not delay in putting a tax and regulate system into law.
It is not clear why Hallquist thinks tax-and-regulate would reduce the incidence of fentanyl-laced pot. Legalization doesn’t necessarily equate with accurate labeling. Some 69 percent of California’s legal “medical marijuana” edibles were mislabeled as either over or under-strength THC, a Vanderbilt University report showed. But even if legalization leads to more “quality control,” the Colorado legalization experiment shows Vermont’s black market will continue to thrive. The black market is booming in Colorado. Legalization makes cultivation far easier for illicit dealers, and many buyers don’t want to pay more for legal, taxed marijuana.
Only one candidate told Heady Vermont he’s against legal pot: Orange County Sheriff incumbent Bill Bohnyak. He wrote simply: “Oppose legalization.”
The platform committee of the Vermont Democratic Party publicly committed to tax-and-regulate legalization in late August, Vermont Digger reported Aug. 27.
It’s not surprising that legalization supporters don’t want to see more research. Most of it points to the dangers of increasing public access to marijuana. For example:
Breast milk carries THC to infants
“Marijuana’s main mind-altering ingredient was detected in nursing mothers’ breast milk in a small study that comes amid evidence that more U.S. women are using pot during pregnancy and afterward,” CBC News reported Aug. 27 about a new study out of San Diego. “Experts say the ingredient, THC, has chemical properties that could allow it to disrupt brain development and potentially cause harm, although solid evidence of that is lacking.”
THC found in almost three-fourths of Colorado DUIs
In 2016, “about 73% of some 4,000 drivers charged with driving under the influence tested positive for marijuana. The report, by the Division of Criminal Justice, also revealed that half of the drivers who tested positive were over the legal limit of THC in their blood. And 53 percent admit they smoked marijuana within two hours of getting behind the wheel,” Smart Approaches to Marijuana reported August 10. Most drivers recently had consumed other drugs, as well.
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.