Earlier this week, I wrote a post about the marijuana debate entitled “They labored mightily and brought forth a mouse.”
Turned out I was overly optimistic, because the mouse didn’t make it.
No legalization. No grow-your-own. And as for the House’s idea of a study commission (thx to Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck, who never would’ve gotten this into the Free Press):
“Fuck the commission,” a frustrated Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Sears (D-Bennington) said after his effort to create a public advisory vote failed. “The commission was unnecessary.”
Agreed. Especially since the commission would have apparently been funded with money diverted from opioid treatment. Sheesh.
The only good thing about this: the House’s brilliant idea of a new saliva test for buzzed driving also failed. That’s the test with no clear scientific basis, according to a state-sponsored study.
Sears’ four-letter kiss-off came after the Senate failed to take up his last-ditch proposal for a nonbinding referendum on the November ballot. That debate produced this priceless bit of rhetorical overreach:
Sen. Becca Balint (D-Windham) made an impassioned plea to fellow Democrats not to use the ballot box to decide social issues. As a gay person with family members who were killed in the Holocaust, she said, “I can’t tell you how terrified I am when it comes to referendums. We don’t have control over what the questions are going to look like in future.”
Uhh… with all due respect, Senator, there are lots of states that allow binding referenda. We have yet to see a single successful petition drive in support of genocide.
Anyway, it’s back to Square Zero for proponents of legalization. The Legislature’s ever-present Chicken Little impulse broke out at a bad time for the issue. Pretty much everyone agrees that legalization is inevitable; by the time we get around to it, at least a couple of our New England neighbors will likely have beaten us to the punch.
A major problem was the dissension in the ranks between those who wanted a commercial marketplace and those who favored the home-grown approach. If we wait until other nearby states have legalized, we may have little choice but to join whatever commercial market has developed on a larger scale by then. We may well have missed our chance to shape a marketplace to our liking.
So yeah, fuck the commission.
Postscript. I was disappointed to see that the Burlington Free Press is leaning heavily on the AP’s Dave Gram for its Statehouse coverage during the closing days of the session. Nothing at all against Dave, he’s a fine reporter; it’s just that I expect more of the state’s biggest newspaper. It’s now focused its dwindling resources almost entirely on the Burlington area — and on content that’s clickbait-driven and advertiser-friendly as well. A once pretty good paper continues its descent into irrelevance.