"Nothing Positive Has Come Out of The Whole Legalization in Colorado" VLCT Falls Victim to Known Data Manipulators, Fear-Mongering

 Well, in learning the political landscape around cannabis in Vermont, it's good to know where some members of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns stand.  Unfortunately, it's an alternate reality.  And even worse, their opinions are being informed by known liars who manipulate data to scare government officials and citizens in other states (From Forbes, "Supposedly Neutral Federal Report Stacks the Deck Against Marijuana Legalization").  In reading the Rut Vegas Herald article, this quote from a VLCT board member really stood out: 

Sandra Pinsonault, Dorset town clerk and a member of the VCLT board of directors, told her town’s Select Board last week that crime has gone up in Colorado and the tax revenue expected from legalizing marijuana has not materialized.
“Everything that Colorado has predicted has all been negative,” she said. “Nothing positive has come out of the whole legalization in Colorado.”

Wow.

Now, I encourage you all to read the entire article (and maybe join me in traveling to Town Fair in Killington on October 8) on the Rutland Herald website.  Then, maybe read this article from Time Magazine (Colorado on Pace to Nearly Double Revenue From Marijuana Tax) that refutes the tax part; the revenues have exceeded all expectations.  And how about the crime stats?  Well, check out an actual, cited report from the Drug Policy Alliance about the statistical impact of legalization in Colorado.  Spoiler alert of their findings seen in the picture, "Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1st, 2014, the state of Colorado has benefitted from a decrease in crime rates, a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs." (Source)

drug policy alliance

So who the fuck is responsible for this information?  Well, they're called the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, and they're run by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.  Their mission is, "to combat drug trafficking through cooperation among federal, state and local agencies."

Some quick googling brought me to an excellent article in the Portland Press Herald, and an even better quote from David Boyer, head of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Maine (rolls right off the tongue) that sums up the source of this fear-mongering.

David Boyer, head of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Maine, said “it is important to keep in mind this is most certainly a piece of political literature.”
“It’s not an objective government report,” Boyer said. “This is a case of cherry-picking data and leaving out other data they think will refute what they want to share. They’re coming here to scare people into saying the sky has fallen in Colorado.”
Boyer disputes the report’s findings on youth marijuana use, pointing instead to a Colorado Healthy Kids Survey that found the trend for current and lifetime marijuana use among teens has remained stable since 2005. The same survey found a drop in past 30-day use among Colorado high school students, while that rate increased nationwide.

Keep in mind that he's got an end goal too, but he can use logic, not fear.  While this might be a case of some nice, older town officials (people we and Louis C.K. would call 'folks') getting scared by a report, it matters because local governments need to have a role in regulating cannabis locally, and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns plays an important role in disseminating information to municipalities.  

To review how this works:

  1. Prohibitionists skew data and produce biased reports, have enough acronyms to project legitimacy.
  2. Someone pays asshole prohibitionists to travel to states.
  3. Asshole prohibitionists give un-nuanced presentations (some public and some private, like the VLCT one where they know people are clueless) designed to scare.
  4. Government officials and passionate activists (for and against) come together and are presented with the 'findings' of the prohibitionists.
  5. Local media covers the meeting, shares an overview with the public that gives enough info to drive pageviews, skips the important parts (above)
  6. Members of the public have debates on facebook and comment section, some of which are informed, some of which is just rabble rabble rabble...

"WE MUST ALL LOVE EACH OTHER, OR DIE...THE STAKES ARE TOO HIGH FOR YOU TO STAY HOME"  -well, that part I kind of agree with...

When it comes to other states, we have templates, data and anecdotes, all of which we can use to EDUCATE.  Yes, Vermont is different, but while we'll likely have similar questions and issues.  Yes, we'll also have a playbook of solutions, to which we can add our own creativity and innovation.  Yes, we should tackle these challenges with an informed, but local perspective.

When it comes to Colorado experiences with marijuana legalization, the fact is that public support is higher after legalization than it was before.  It wasn't perfect or easy being first, but the public is happier now after prohibition, them's the facts.

For prohibitionists determined to portray marijuana legalization in Colorado as a disaster, those poll results are inconvenient, since they indicate that public support for Amendment 64 was higher after more than a year of legal recreational sales and more than two years of legal possession and home cultivation than it was in 2012. SOURCE

Don't let fear and misinformation win the day, elevate the conversation.

--Eli Harrington, September 27, 2015