By Guy Page
The Vermont Attorney General’s Office is expected this coming week to announce criminal prosecution guidelines to stop a marijuana marketing loophole created by Act 86, the marijuana “personal possession” law. Vermont drug dealers offer to give “free” marijuana to buyers who will pay exorbitant prices for otherwise worthless items, such as potting soil, old clothing, and cheap jewelry.
Last week, two leading anti-legalization citizens’ groups – Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont (of which I am executive director) and Smart Approaches to Marijuana – Vermont (SAM-VT) – urged State of Vermont officials directly and via press release to prosecute drug dealers exploiting Act 86 and to repeal or amend the law to permanently close this loophole. In this July 19 media coverage, I explain the groups’ concerns:
- WCAX: “It’s up to [the Attorney General] to say, ‘No, this is illegal. This is against the spirit and the letter of the law. Commercial pot needs to have drug addicts. It needs to have people who are consuming a lot of the product. And the best people to get are the young people because they are the easiest to addict.”
- VT Digger: “Any so-called economic activity where the business model is the addiction of young people to the detriment of mental health, their education, and their future productivity is a definite downer to the people of the state of Vermont.”
- WPTZ: “Our county prosecutors and our attorney general should come out strongly that this is dispensing marijuana for profit. It’s just a shell game, it’s an evasion of the spirit of the law and probably the letter of the law and they should come out strong and say we’ll prosecute this.”
Headliners will report the contents and implications of the AG guideline statement as soon as possible.
For first time since 1990’s, consumption of marijuana, alcohol by Vermont youth increases
The number of Vermont high school students who currently use marijuana has increased from 22% in 2015 to 24% in 2017. Compared to 2015, more high school students report ever drinking alcohol (56% vs. 58%), as well as drinking in the last 30 days (30% vs. 33%). [Source: Vermont Department of Health Youth Risk Behavior Survey, released May 30 2018.]“Young people who use alcohol and/or marijuana before age 15 are five times more likely to develop substance use dependency in their life than those who start using after age 21,” Healthy Lamoille Valley coordinator Jessica Bickford said in a July 12 News & Citizen op-ed.
Law enforcement in an Act 86 world: no roadside test, smell of pot doesn’t justify car search, pot-sniffing dogs to be reassigned
Reporter Caleigh Cross reports in the 6/28 News & Citizen story, “Law enforcement readies for legal weed”:
- There is still no roadside test for marijuana impairment. The Legislature failed to pass a bill permitting an oral swab.
- The smell of marijuana in a car is no longer reasonable cause to search and seize illegal drugs. Only the smell of burnt marijuana provides reasonable cause, according to a Vermont State Police training bulletin. However, a visible joint is equated with an open container of alcohol.
- K9 units trained to sniff out marijuana will be used for patrol. New police dogs won’t be trained to detect pot.
Vermont high school students of color, LGBT at more risk for suicide
High school students of color are significantly more likely to make a suicide plan (15% vs. 10%) and attempt suicide (8% vs. 5%). They are also more than twice as likely as white, non-Hispanic students to be threatened with a weapon on school property (9% vs. 4%), the May 30 Vermont Department of Health Youth Risk Behavior Survey said.LGBT high school students are more than four times as likely (33% vs. 8%) as heterosexual or cisgender students to make suicide plans and to attempt suicide (18% vs. 4%). They are nearly three times more likely (58% vs. 21%) than heterosexual or cisgender students to feel sad or hopeless, and significantly more likely to be threatened or injured with a weapon on school property (10% vs. 4%).
Morristown rethinks naming new bypass the “IPA Highway”
So, maybe naming that new highway after beer isn’t such a good idea, after all.Morristown town officials have been considering naming the new Rte. 100 bypass the “IPA Highway,” after the breweries located there. But now other town and state officials say that sends the wrong message about drinking and driving. Michelle Salvador of the Vermont Department of Health said in the July 19 News & Citizen: “Children and young people notice how parents and people in their community use alcohol, tobacco/nicotine products, and other drugs at home, in their community and in their social lives. Additionally, they notice messaging in their environment.”Supporters of legalized, commercial pot should think hard about that statement, especially the part about the “other drugs at home.”
Half of Vermont’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics offer abortions
Six Planned Parenthood clinics in Vermont perform abortions: Williston, White River Junction, Bennington, Barre, Burlington and Rutland, according to the 6/28 News & Citizen. By process of elimination these six do not: Brattleboro, Hyde Park, Middlebury, Newport, St. Albans, and St. Johnsbury.
Attorney General TJ Donovan recently held a press conference urging Vermonters to support federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and his office even provided a website comment link for the federal Department of Health and Human Services. That link is “neutral” which means opponents of PP federal funding can register their opinions too.
“Republican” quits Newport House primary, will run as independent
Kendall Lambert of Newport has withdrawn from the Republican primary for the two-seat House District Orleans 2 (Newport City, Newport Center, Coventry, Irasburg, and part of Troy), saying in a July 11 letter to the Chronicle that “it was a mistake.”
She will run in the November general election as an independent. Ms. Lambert holds a masters degree in Environmental Science, is wife of the pastor of the United Church in Newport, did not vote Republican in the 2016 presidential election, marched in the Women’s March earlier this year, sports a nose ring, and has criticized Northeast Kingdom Republicans who voted against a House resolution condemning Trump administration immigration policies. Orleans 2 incumbent Mike Marcotte (R) is seeking re-election, but incumbent Gary Viens (R) is not. Woodman “Woody” Page, a retired Army veteran, is the remaining Republican in the primary.
Independent, minor party candidates register for November, 2018 General Election
According to this spreadsheet from the Vermont Secretary of State’s office, the following independent and minor party candidates have filed to run in the general election this November. The filing deadline is August 9. Click here for all candidates for the three major party – Republican, Democrat and Progressive – candidates in the August 14 primary election.
Trump: poodle or pitbull?
Finally I close with news that has nothing to do with Vermont, much less the State House. I wrote this on Facebook this week. In advance I extend my less-than-heartfelt apologies to anyone who is offended by these statements of fact. Each of these actions challenging Russia or Russian president Vladimir Putin were taken by Pres. Trump or his administration in 2018, except for the July 2017 Warsaw speech:
- Called for NATO to double its spending increase
- sold $47 million of weapons to the Ukraine, a foe of Russia
- told Putin he will hit Syria and Russian troops there with “nice and new and smart” missiles if Assad gasses his own people again
- expanded U.S. military to unprecedented levels
- started a U.S. Space Force despite Russian opposition to “Star Wars”
- sanctioned oligarch hockey-playing buddies of Pres. Vladimir Putin
- expelled Russian diplomats after Syrian nerve gas attack
- appointed as national security advisor John Bolton, a Cold warrior hawk who said Putin is a liar and that 2016 Russian meddling was “a true act of war“
- gave a rousing speech in Warsaw, Poland about what a great and freedom-loving the Polish people are and urging Russia to cease its destabilizing policies.
- charged alleged Russian spy during week of recent summit
- tried to persuade Germany to say no to Russia’s new pipeline
Yep, that president of ours, he is some kind of Putin poodle; or a traitor; or something. Because all that stuff above, it’s all for show, right? It can’t possibly be true that Trump just wants to show strength, then make nice and cut a deal that makes the world a safer place.
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.