March 28, 2017
No, this is not a post on guns…that will be another day. This is about cannabis. I’ve received a flurry of emails asking me to vote “yes” or “no” on H.170, a bill that proposes to legalize a Vermont citizen’s ability to carry an ounce of marijuana and to have two mature plants and four immature plants in their residence or on their property.
I will be voting “yes” on this bill. Here’s why:
It is long past time, in my opinion, to end the prohibition on the possession of marijuana, and will be soon on the manufacturing, sale and regulation of marijuana or, more precisely, cannabis. H.170 is a small step in that direction.
The United States and the State of Vermont have ended prohibition on the manufacture and sale of alcohol and have legalized the sale of lottery tickets and games. We have never banned or regulated “minor” games of chance, like bingo or break open tickets, even if we assume the time and money spent on those games can add up to an “addiction.”
We have also seen a deadly increase in the marketing, sale and use of prescription opioids, and as a backlash to the expense of those drugs, the increased use of heroin. These narcotics are so addictive that, some reports show, one can get hooked within a week of use. Packets of heroin, as we’ve seen recently in the press, are sometimes used as a salary replacement to allegedly “functional” addicts. Heroin is also “cut”, or diluted, with chemicals that have enhanced its strength, or not cut enough, both of which can lead to fatal overdoses. Read more
March 18, 2017
Did you know that the United States is, at last count, one of only two countries on Earth that does not offer paid family and medical leave for its citizens? Got that? On Earth. We spend a lot of energy, verbally and physically, trying to bend our minds around “competitiveness” and “affordability” and, when it comes to showing the most basic compassion toward our citizens, we have failed. But then, is it really a failure if we haven’t really tried?
Oh sure, since the early 1990’s, both Vermont and the United States have offered an unpaid family and medical leave for employees. The Vermont Parent and Family Leave Act covers all employers doing business in or operating within the state of Vermont, which for parental leave purposes employ 10 or more employees for an average of at least 30 hours per week during a year, and for family leave purposes employ 15 or more employees for an average of at least 30 hours per week during a year. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act applies to companies with more than 50 employees. The PFLA has been slightly more accommodating with the kind of leave one can take than the FMLA, but neither of them have evolved to include income replacement for those families who need to take leave to take care of their parents, themselves, or to bond with their children.
It is this “softer” reality that really makes people nervous. There are many positive societal benefits, from stress reduction to quality health care to child bonding to self care and so on, and many of them are quantifiable, but the opponents of this bill refuse to consider them. Read more
March 3, 2017
Here is a link to a PDF of our 2017 Town Meeting Report. Rep. Theresa Wood and I are sharing our initial thoughts on the new session with this report. Please feel free to contact us with questions at anytime.