Editorial: Principle, Progress, and "Progress"

[Friday, January 29, 2016 - Eli Harrington]

In hindsight, both the premise and promise of “The Vermont Way” of reforming cannabis were probably doomed from the start.  Writing that phrase and reflecting on how I thought about it and promoted it over the past six months feels uncomfortably like a hangover (from alcohol that is, reminder that it takes A LOT of consumption to feel weed the next day).

Lying in bed, then groggily traveling to work, it’s like a bad bar flashback: “With the flexibility of the legislative process, and all this time, we can skip the ridiculous ‘if’ questions and focus on the ‘how’.  If the would-be business people with political power want to empower the growers with cultivation power, we can all work together and do something truly progressive!"

Clearly, I was wasted, but damn that’s good local Kool-Aid.  

Shout out to OXBOW Creative, awesome local firm, and great video...check out isberniecrazy.com !

To be clear, I don’t believe that an ‘us or them’ approach is accurate or pragmatic, but the "suits vs. roots" dynamic is VERY real in the weed world, whether it’s Vermont, California, Florida, or anywhere else.  I spent hundreds of hours with the Vermont Cannabis Collaborative and witnessed them having real conversations around the state—they and other advocates are not the ‘enemy’ and I appreciate the education myself and many others received working with them.

I also strongly believe that that group and others were alarmingly and suspiciously quick to sacrifice principle for ‘progress’ in terms of true common sense commerce.  Cops know exactly how they’ll use revenues, but no precise ideas how revenues could help VT farmers or protect working landscapes?.  Grassroots advocates also have good reason to be angry: the will of the people participating in this process were almost immediately overridden by the will of Dick Sears, and this is far from providing merit-based economic opportunities.

The big question for the members of the public who care enough to contact their lawmakers is, “is this bill worth supporting as a principled step forward, or is it building a foundation upon disproportionate policing and oligopoly?"

By Noon, we’ll all have a much better idea about what comes next as far as next steps.  Iour stance, than advocating hard, and if I'm not convinced this is a good bill, I'd be willing to stand up for principle and watch the state take another year--or biennium--to build on this.  Regardless of my own personal/business platform, I'm 100% sure that we'll continue forward together with both grassroots democracy and calling each other carpet-baggers and Tories...ya know, the Vermont Way.