By Bob Orleck
On Wednesday evening, Nov. 1, former Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (2003-11), was the keynote speaker at the annual Orange County GOP spaghetti dinner held in Randolph. During the Q/A session, I asked him about his position on the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Vermont.
Speaking without hesitation to his audience, Gov. Douglas said he opposes such legalization and sees no reason for it. He noted that there have been increased highway deaths in Colorado and Washington since legalization began there. He also said for some people marijuana is a gateway drug.
Gov. Douglas voiced an understanding about the desire by some for tax revenue, but rejected it, saying that “the desire for this revenue should not replace our values and what is the right thing to do and this is not the right thing to do for Vermont.” He cited the example of Gov. Dean rejecting a casino in southern Vermont because it was “not consistent with Vermont values.” The governor also questioned if revenue would meet expectations, but even if it did, “it would not be the right thing to do.”
I agree. So do many Vermonters for many reasons, the number of which only seems to grow as we learn more about the law enforcement, addiction and homelessness problems in legal jurisdictions. I hope Gov. Douglas’s position will help others realize that legalization for recreational use is not inevitable and there are leaders out there who are not afraid to take a principled position against this dangerous and addicting drug.
The marijuana that is being marketed elsewhere, and will be here if the pro-pot industry gets its way, is not the 1% to 3% marijuana of the 1970s. Today’s marijuana is now up to 15% and concentrates make it available up to 90%. It is being marketed in the form of soda pop, brownies, gummy bears and lollipops. Just imagine when a young child sees this “yummy” brownie laying around.
Bob Orleck is a retired pharmacist and former Vermont assistant attorney general. He lives in Randolph.