Is Burlington Vermont Going To Pot?

In an effort to exert pressure on the Vermont State legislature, a Progressive member of the Burlington, Vermont City Council has proposed a “survey type” question be put before the Queen City voters that will start out as a survey, but end up being considered a referendum.

Here’s the way WCAX TV in Burlington is reporting the story:

“The Burlington City Council will vote Monday night whether to put an item on the November ballot to legalize marijuana in the Queen City.

City Councilor Max Tracy wants a referendum question added to the November 6th ballot asking voters if they would support the legalization, regulation and taxation of all cannabis and hemp products.

The Progressive calls them untapped revenue streams and says the survey results would help guide the conversation in Montpelier.

The public is invited to weigh in on the issue before the council votes during tonight’s meeting.”

Burlington is Vermont’s largest city – a college town if there ever was one – and has long been the bastion of Democrats and now Progressive party denizens.  For Councilman Tracy to suggest this survey comes as no great surprise – especially when he knows the results already.

If given the chance, Burlington would support every crime associated with marijuana – even those that totally conflict with federal statutes.

The Vermont legislature, despite being totally Democrat controlled from the top down, won’t be quite as easy an egg to crack.  One high-ranking Democrat, speaking privately in response to this proposal said “It’s one way to sneak in the back door, so to speak.  We (members of the House and Senate) know that Burlington voters would have made pot legal many years ago if they could, but there will be strong legal opposition in Montpelier and that opposition needs to be seriously considered.”

One extremely serious hurdle for legalization of marijuana proponents to clear is the driving while under the influence statute, which makes the voluntary use of marijuana as well as other debilitating drugs, or a blood-alcohol level of .08% a crime.  Legalizing marijuana would seemingly open the floodgates for motorists to drive “stoned” without fear of criminal action.  The combination of uses – both alcohol and pot (which is quite common) – would undoubtedly cause the State’s courts considerable consternation in applying the laws correctly.

In any event, legalization would require that law to be completely rewritten immediately.  “That’s just one example of what must be done with DUI, and probably several other laws, before any legalization of marijuana could take place”, my source – who does not represent Burlington or any Chittenden County community – said.

In a 2011 DEA report entitled The DEA Position On Marijuana, an alarming increase of marijuana impaired driver’s in Montana – where medical marijuana use is now legal – is cause for serious concern.

“DRUGGED DRIVERS

• The principal concern regarding drugged driving is that driving under the influence of any drug that acts on the brain could impair one’s motor skills, reaction time, and judgment.  Drugged driving is a public health concern because it puts not only the driver at risk, but also passengers and others who share the road.

• In Montana, where there has been an enormous increase in “medical” marijuana cardholders this past year, Narcotics Chief Mark Long told a legislative committee in April 2010 that “DUI arrests involving marijuana have skyrocketed, as have traffic fatalities where marijuana was found in the system of one of the drivers.

• In 2009 there were 10.5 million persons aged 12 and older who reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the past year. The rate was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25.

• The percentage of fatally injured drivers testing positive for drugs increased over the last five years according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  In 2009, 33 percent of the 12,055 drivers fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes with known test results tested positive for at least one drug compared to 28 percent in 2005.  In 2009, marijuana was the most prevalent drug found in this population – approximately 28 percent of fatally
injured drivers who tested positive tested positive for marijuana.

• Results from the Monitoring the Future survey indicated that in 2008 more than 12 percent of high school seniors admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana in the two weeks prior to the survey.”

And that’s just Montana.  One state out of 50.

And note the direct connection with motorists killed and marijuana usage documented.  An important point to remind those who say “marijuana has never, ever killed anyone”, a talking point most frequently heard from those who support legalization.

Because Vermont is small and very heavily populated and controlled by Democrats/Progressives, it would the ideal state to begin a nationwide marijuana legalization movement.  We’ll monitor this story and post any significant news.

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