Beer boom is a good thing
In response to Phil Holland's letter to the editor posted on Jan. 11 regarding UVM's new beer brewing course, it is important to understand what is happening in central and northern Vermont. I direct you to the January 2016 issue of Ski Vermont Magazine on page 40, "Vermont is on its way to becoming the Napa Valley of beer, if it's not already, which rate among the worlds best." Vermont's own Alchemist (of Heady Topper fame), Hill Farmstead, Lawson's (of Sip of Sunshine fame), Fiddlehead, 14th Star, Zero Gravity and others boast some of the best brewers in the country. People from across the U.S. travel to Vermont to taste these beers even though most stores only allow you to buy a limited amount and usually sell out within a few hours or at best a day. Take a trip to Waterbury or Burlington and you will find many of the most successful restaurants in the state leading with their tap menu along side their farm to table delicacies. In fact, many have petitioned for a portion of Route 100 to be designated The IPA Highway. You see, this is a booming industry for Vermont. And where better to be educated than a place that is home to some of the best at their craft? Vermonters and New Englanders alike have embraced the popularity of craft breweries. This should be celebrated as an example of the type of curriculum that may in fact keep grads and aspiring entrepreneurs in this state rather than moving away to find a decent job. Vermont needs more innovative companies with outstanding products people will travel hours if not days to enjoy.
Marijuana should be decided by ballot
Legalizing recreational marijuana will have an outsize impact on Vermont if 3.2 million nonresident users living conveniently within 200 miles in states where it remains illegal are added to 80 thousand resident users — five marijuana users per Vermonter — the RAND Corporation Drug Policy Research Center report commissioned by our legislators warns us (pp. 156, 18; U.S. Census Bureau).
State-by-state, legalizing recreational marijuana is creating a national marijuana industry like the tobacco industry where, at least initially, there may be a niche market for premium Vermont marijuana.
Seizing their opportunity for riches, marijuana entrepreneurs and their financiers will outbid thrifty, conventional Vermont farmers to lease or buy agricultural land and buildings for their very valuable crop that must be grown, processed and sold here to an influx of marijuana tourists displacing other tourists, especially families.
Dibs on diversifying to individually grow and cooperatively process and wholesale premium Vermont marijuana and marijuana products would protect and reward experienced Vermont farmers working so long and hard to preserve our cherished rural Vermont and their livelihoods.
They could employ former clandestine marijuana growers and processors, who lack necessary knowledge and experience of professional agriculture, legal and regulatory compliance, environmental stewardship and ethical marketing.
Like voters elsewhere, Vermonters should decide by Australian ballot whether to legalize recreational marijuana for residents or for nonresidents and give dibs on marijuana agriculture to conventional Vermont farmers.
There is a precedent: In 1936, the governor and a majority of legislators endorsed the ridgeline Green Mountain Parkway, but allowed town-meeting voters to decide whether it should change Vermont.
Democrats would embarrass Twain
Mark Twain, 19th century American author, is quoted as saying "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." He was speaking what we know now as a timeless and universal truth. The Vermont legislature reconvened on Jan. 5. The liberal elitists (Democrats) in charge under the golden dome in Montpelier have dug themselves a deep financial hole. Their insatiable appetite for wasteful spending has outpaced tax revenues by $58 million dollars. The record of one party rule in Montpelier over the last six years has included such unsuccessful projects as the $200 million dollar failed Vermont Health Connect website and the equally expensive and liberty killing school consolidation law, Act 46. Democrats love the big government hammer to solve small town concerns. In fairness to the Vermont Democrats, a number of prominent "progressive" liberal Republicans enthusiastically signed onto Act 46. Phil Scott (R), who is running for governor, is quoted as saying "ACT 46 does not go far enough." Apparently Phil has as little regard for local control and liberty as Peter Shumlin. Marijuana legalization will be on the front burner for the governor and legislators this session. The legalization of marijuana should have two positive effects for Vermonters. Legalization could raise huge amounts of revenue for the state. In a sane world legislators and the governor would add this money to the dangerously underfunded pension plans. More likely this group of legislators and governor will flush this revenue down the toilet pursuing another socialist fantasy. Not all would be lost though. The easier access to marijuana could ensure that the Vermont taxpayer could get so stoned out of their minds that they would be oblivious to their pockets being picked, down to the last dime. The conduct of the super majority Democrats and Governor Shumlin over the last six years would make even the worldly Mark Twain blush with embarrassment.