For years now, I’ve been writing about the only two weapons left in the arsenal of marijuana prohibitionists that have any power at all—SMOF & WATC.
SMOF stands for “Stoned Mayhem On Freeways” and WATC stands for “What About The Children.” Both of those are in full effect in the veto statement of Governor Phil Scott regarding the first legislatively-passed marijuana legalization bill in Vermont.
“This legislation does not adequately answer these questions,” wrote Scott. “We must aggressively punish… usage in the presence of minors.”
Yeah, sure. Treat marijuana like alcohol, except feel free to drink beer in front of your kids, take beer to a picnic in the park with kids, take your kids to restaurants where you can drink beer in front of them, take them to outdoor festivals where they can see hundreds of adults drinking beer in front of them.
But god forbid a kid sees an adult smoking a joint!
Better they’re constantly exposed to beer ads, sugar cereal ads, fast-food kid meal ads—you know, healthy choices.
Scott’s concern is that “secondhand marijuana smoke can negatively affect a child’s brain development.”
Yeah, sure. Just look at Willie Nelson’s, Tommy Chong’s and Bob Marley’s combined two dozen kids. What a bunch of brain-damaged dummies there, among the successful actors, musicians, businesspeople and artists in that group, huh?
Researchers trying desperately to find any sort of harm from secondhand marijuana smoke must go to extreme lengths to find it.
One such study involved placing people in a tiny unventilated plexiglass box with billows of secondhand marijuana smoke pumped in for hours, just to be able to register someone exposed to enough of it to fail a standard workplace drug test.
“Therefore, if an adult is smoking marijuana in a… confined space with a child this should be severely punished,” the governor explained. He worried that under the legalization bill, “there is only a small civil fine” that matches the fine for an open container of alcohol in a car.
So, what exactly is a “confined space” to the governor? Your home? Your living room?
Otherwise known as spaces in which Vermont would not be issuing you a small civil fine for smoking tobacco around minors, a substance which produces a far more harmful secondhand smoke?
That “small civil fine,” by the way, for having an open container of alcohol in your car is $70. The governor appears to want a larger fine for smoking a joint in front of your kid in your own home than for having an open bottle of tequila in your car while driving your kid around.
Vermont recently passed a law that bans tobacco smoking in cars with children inside. The fine for that offense is $100. But it only applies to children aged eight and younger, because by age nine, children’s lungs and brains are magically immune to the effects of secondhand tobacco smoke.
Out of your car, of course, feel free to puff away on your cancer sticks in front of the little ones.
But Scott wants the law to aggressively punish you for any marijuana use anywhere near minors all the way up to age 18. Better stick to cigarettes instead—you know, healthy choices.
Then Scott, without any awareness of the contradiction, writes that Vermont must let “science inform any policy made around this issue, learning from the experience of other states,” and “At a minimum, [Vermont] must determine… an impairment threshold for operating a motor vehicle [and] the options for an impairment testing mechanism.”
Really? You mean Vermont has been one of the top five states for monthly marijuana consumption in this century, at over one-in-seven Vermonters, and only now we’ve got to figure out how to catch stoned drivers?
If Vermont listens to the science, they’ll find there is no “impairment threshold” that can be determined by “an impairment testing mechanism” for THC.
If Vermont learns from the experience of other states, they’ll find the two states that set up THC thresholds contain numerous examples of cannabis consumers well over the limit but perfectly fine to drive. Then, they’ll find that the other six states that looked at the issue rejected these per se DUI standards because they’re unscientific and unjust.
Scott wrote: “If the Legislature agrees to make the changes I am seeking, we can move this discussion forward.”
I see no principled objection to that from the legislature, so expect sometime in the next year for Vermont to set the precedent that legislatively-passed legalization (read: most of the rest of the states that will ever pass it) must establish THC limits for drivers (read: all frequent tokers are automatic DUIs if stopped) and bans on smoking marijuana in confined spaces where children are present (read: anywhere kids are indoors, including your own home).
And that’s what you’ll get from liberal-progressive, hippie-dippie, 14.2 percent monthly-usage Vermont.
You can count on future legislatively-legalized states to ban home growing, too (read: protect the state’s tax revenue ), perhaps like Nevada’s cultivation ban within 25 miles radius of a pot shop.