Pubdate: Sat, 08 Mar 2008
Source: Burlington Free Press (VT)
Copyright: 2008 Burlington Free Press
Author: John Hilferty


Slowly but surely, the progressive forces that control the power in
the Vermont Legislature are doing what they can to weaken the quality
of life that makes Vermont a unique place to live.

With their support of the marijuana decriminalization bill, their
attitude seems to be that smoking pot is such a casual indiscretion
there is no harm in letting users have their way with it.

Perhaps this could be added to the legislation: The warning to
teenagers that smoking pot is OK, but when your concentration levels
fall to the point where your grades in school suffer, or if you are
out on your own and can't keep a job, then you should know where your
problems have originated.

One of the most persuasive arguments against marijuana use is that
teenagers, in particular, learn to avoid stress through the calming
benefits of pot. Thus they fail to cope with the challenges of gaining
adulthood and become forever locked in arrested development ---
inability to focus on school or an occupation.

Marijuana is the swamp where the drug culture breeds. An example of
the insidiousness of the practice is Vancouver, British Columbia, a
liberal-minded city where marijuana-growing and its use are winked at.
The acceptance has led to an influx of criminal gangs competing to
control what has become a $7 billion industry in British Columbia. The
figures are not mine, but come from The Economist magazine (Feb. 9-15,
Page 41), supported with studies by the British Columbia Organized
Crime Agency and the Fraser Institute, a think tank.

British Columbia and Vermont have similar attributes of natural
beauty. Both rely on tourism, except in the Canadian province,
backpacking pot smokers and other drug seekers from all over the world
will soon outnumber the skiers and other visitors.

The Economist stated that Vancouver has become Canada's new center for
drug-related violence "thanks to its importance as a hub for the
production and export of marijuana." Are we witnessing an identical
movement in Rutland, where out-of-state drug dealers are flocking to
take advantage of Vermont's increasing acceptance?

Here is what Narcanon Vancouver, a drug rehabilitation agency in
British Columbia, says about the problem: Soft marijuana laws create
fertile ground where "drug pushers produce more drug addicts because
of an expanding market into which they can push drugs."

Vermont legislators favoring the soft approach toward marijuana should
be made to consider who benefits the most from their actions.
According to Narcanon Vancouver, "drug dealers, pot growers incapable
of supporting their habit, criminals, pimps, pushers, organized crime,
drug companies, opium traders, drug crop land owners are all
financially gaining from a product (marijuana) that has but one true
result: oblivion, forgetfulness, destroyed ambition, apathy, slow
death of an entire future generation."

The Democrats and Progressives who hold the power in the state
Legislature consistently ignore reforms central to the state's
problems: the need to reduce taxes and promote business, jobs and
affordable housing. They can't put aside their time-consuming
fixations on laws that strengthen various lifestyle acceptance.

All of us as voters who love Vermont and wish it well should push the
majority members of the Vermont Legislature to institute meaningful
tax reform, to create jobs through nonpolluting industry and make
housing affordable to working families. Focusing on marijuana
legislation that can only lead to the destruction of lives is not the
way to go.
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