Letter to the editor: More drugs is not the answer

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More drugs is not the answer

Why do people use marijuana? That is a question that is rarely discussed, despite the fact that it is perhaps the most important question to consider as our state moves towards a crucial decision. Instead, the people are fed an argument that is built on a house of cards.

(Governor Peter Shumlin) frequently cites descriptive statistics such as "80,000 Vermonters admit to smoking cannabis." If 100,000 Vermonters admit to speeding, should we abolish speed limits?

Shumlin uses terms like "the prohibition of marijuana" that have a negative connotation due to historical associations. If we changed the term speeding to the "Machiavellian manipulation of driving practices" that would sound oppressive as well. He considers legal bans on marijuana to be a failed practice because they have not 100 percent eradicated marijuana use. Could we not make a similar analogy concerning speed limits and speeding? Better yet, if we are considering the measure of failure to be the absence of absolute success, what legal regulations would not be failures? Is this truly a reasonable way to evaluate legislation?

Shumlin cites the risk of border states like Massachusetts legalizing marijuana before we do. God forbid the people who prioritize marijuana use over anything else hop the border.

He uses anecdotal stories about drug dealers lacing product to scare people into regulated legalization without using statistical evidence to validate the frequency of these issues. Anecdotal stories could also be used to tell the horrific tales of drugged driving accidents and young adults who developed addiction problems and threw their lives away. Risk cannot be evaluated by anecdotal stories, but it requires statistical comparisons.

Back to my original point, we rarely discuss why the ability to use marijuana is so important to our population. Does general unhappiness play a role? Here's an idea. Before we move to legalize marijuana let's determine why this issue is so important. Then, let's address the problems that are making people feel like they "need" marijuana. Make meaningful investments in things like mental health services, education, and economic development.

If legalization doesn't solve our problems, we can't take it back. If improving our quality of life doesn't reduce the demand for drugs, we can always discuss legalization in the future. Rather than taking the easy way out, let's try to improve quality of life issues here in Vermont before we mask them by feeding the people more drugs.

— Billy Obenauer Shaftsbury


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