Drugs and Crime

Cocaine decrim, safe injection sites to get House committee review

Bill sponsor claims ‘prohibition doesn’t work’ – although history shows otherwise

By Guy Page

H.72, a laundry list of illegal drug decriminalization and penalty reduction measures, will get a lengthy look in the House Human Services Committee this week. 

Sponsored by Rep. Taylor Small (D/P – Winooski) and 29 other Democrats, Progressives and independents, H.72 would:

  • Eliminate criminal and civil penalties for operation of a ‘safer drug’ program, including needle exchange and injection sites;
  • Repeal possession of 60 grams or more of cocaine as a criminal offense. (Possession of 150 grams or more is presumed to be for trafficking purposes and would remain a felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison or a $1 million fine.) 
  • Repeal the sunset of the decriminalization of a small amount of buprenorphine; 
  • Establish the Drug Use Standards Advisory Board within the Vermont Sentencing Commission for determining benchmarks for personal use dosage and personal use supply for regulated drug 
  • Require the Sentencing Commission to use benchmark recommendations from the

Drug Use Standards Advisory Board to make recommendations regarding adjustments in the amounts for possession, dispensing, and sale of regulated 5 drugs.

Human Services is scheduled to take testimony on and discuss H.72 today, Wednesday and Thursday. 

A similar bill was introduced March 2 in the Senate. S.119 is sponsored by Sen. Tanya Vyhovsky (Chittenden – D/P). Under S.119, people arrested for possession of hard drugs would be given a civil fine of $50 – analogous to a speeding ticket. Even this fine would be waived if the recipient agreed to undergo drug treatment. 

At an April 6 press conference, Vyhovsky justified drug legalization by claiming the early 20th century federal Prohibition laws making most alcohol consumption illegal, “did not lead to fewer people drinking.”

“We know from our history that prohibition doesn’t work,” Vyhovsky said (as reported by VTDigger). “In 1920, when the United States made alcohol illegal and began a 13-year-long failed experiment in criminalizing a substance, it did not lead to fewer people drinking. It led to people dying from methanol contaminated bootleg alcohol and gun violence in our streets as bootleggers and gangs capitalized on an illicit market. So we made a change, and we repealed that law.”

Actually, history shows that Prohibition did work – at least in reducing Americans’ consumption of alcohol. 

University of Florida professor and addiction history expert David Courtwright told Vox Magazine that Prohibition – whatever else its faults – did reduce alcohol consumption. 

As for the oft-repeated claim that Prohibition didn’t reduce drinking: “No well-informed historian has believed that for 50 years,” Courtwright said. 

His book, the Age of Addiction cites these figures: “Per capita consumption initially fell to 30 percent of pre-Prohibition levels, before gradually increasing to 60 or 70 percent by 1933.” 

12 replies »

  1. Yup. We are no longer a nation of laws; we are a lawless people – accountable to and responsible for no one. Not even ourselves. Didn’t know Miss Tanya was so learned in terms of history. I wonder if she has ever heard of the Roman Empire. How ’bout the Ming Dynasty? Too long ago? How ’bout Venezuela? South Africa?

    We have a genuine autocracy here in Vermont and it will not end well. Vermont is desecrating and/or completely ignoring the US Constitution & federal laws which, of course, it has no inherent right to do. The state will fall and fail – and the citizens will be left with massive crime, valueless Real Estate & homes under water and state legislators with trust funds who long ago relocated to other locales where they can begin anew destroying other places. Vermont is being destroyed left and right each day. Or should I more accurately state: left and left.

  2. Time to outlaw speeding limits, double parking, jay walking, assault and battery, arson, overdue library fines………..heck, outlaw all laws.

  3. Ditto to what Kathleen J. Gaffney wrote.

    I have family in a city where there is a centrally located ‘safe’ injection/drug supply site. Businesses had to move because of theft, the trash (including needles), and disgusting filthy junkie behavior, like defecating on the sidewalks. There’s nothing safe about it and its totally unsafe for passers by, whether drivers or pedestrians, children and adults alike. No good has come from it there, and if allowed in VT, no good will come from it. Portland, OR has been trashed by this kind of self defeating, mindless, and amoral idiocy. Even the last two WalMart stores moved out of Portland. When WalMart leaves you know its bad.

    If this is the new social welfare, advocating pretty much the equivalent of permissive, parenting of wildings we’re in big trouble. Substance abusers need treatment and recovery support, not permission and encouragement to continue abusing. These legislators need to grow up.

    • Apparently issues reported today regarding Burlington’s homeless pod shelter is “mis-information” to rep’s small and vyhovsky.

  4. Here’s where I break from traditional conservative views on the matter and frankly, where the party loses any chance of attracting new blood- you all miss the point. We can debate how much or how less substances are or will be used under prohibition or not, but either way, it’s still a lot of people. Fact- people WILL ALWAYS be using drugs, and those who can’t handle themselves while addicted will be a problem for society EITHER WAY. Ending criminal penalties for small possession will only FREE UP law enforcement resources and the courts. If your concern is an addict who steals and burglarizes, THEN CRIMINALLY CHARGE them for STEALING and BURGLARIZING.
    Aren’t you all about FREEDOM? Why is the government always telling us what we can do with our bodies?
    Imagine a future where heroin distribution was clinically administered? We wouldn’t have all the ODs from dirty cartel fentanyl laced H- in fact, we wouldn’t have cartels at all. They would have to find a new business model (like they did with H when we started legalizing MJ here).
    I say we legalize it all, crush the cartels and allow Central Americans a chance to breathe and fix their own countries- Kathy’s typical day will be exactly the same regardless. Let’s give something NEW a shot for once.

    • Your approach has been tried and has failed – in foreign nations and in locales right here like in Baltimore and San Fran. Are you planning a nice family vacation in once-beautiful San Fran this summer? If so, be prepared to navigate through miles of tent cities, step around and into human feces & puddles of urine, spent needles, & filthy trash with rats rummaging through it – bring the kids! A locale SO horrific that even leftist loon Gavin Newsom is preparing to rid the city of the homeless encampments & addicts. Of course, he’s merely doing so as he is likely running for Prez and knows full well that the vast majority of Americans don’t want to live amidst these unsanitary, unsafe, third-world type conditions.

      Drug addicts/abuser’s rights END where mine BEGIN. And the FIRST duty and responsibility this government has to every citizen is that they can rely upon safe and healthful living conditions. For this very reason, we live within a society that places restrictions and limitations on many different things in order to protect the populace as a whole – from speed limits on roadways to child protective laws.

    • Your world is one of gum drops and rainbows. The reality is drugs, prostitution, homelessness (all part of your proposal) is not a world that healthy and productive people want to live in. Nor do they want children exposed to it. It’s pretty simple if you look at states that support open drugs etc they are now armpits of the nation. Hairy stinky armpits. Not conducive to healthy families.

  5. What these Progressive legislators advocate for – lawlessness, drug addiction, prostitution, state-sponsored suicide, killing of innocent unborn babies, child sexual mutilation, filth in the streets, gangs, subjugation of women, sexualization of children – has another name.

    The name that we are all familiar with is EVIL.

  6. Insurance premiums going up and more exodus to nicer places which increase home prices. This is socialist capitalism. And really good if you’re in the businesses profiting. And in the business of profiting from these businesses. Like politicians.

    And as far as “breaking from traditional conservative views… ” A guy who looks like you, —- buddy, crashed into my yard and busted up a bunch of my property, and my premiums for auto and home went up. The guy was in his 60’s, driving his work truck, and about to go on-duty as a janitor at the HS in Newport. All he did was toke on his chamber pipe, which I found on my lawn after the thaw, along with his fake script vile of marijuana.

    He totaled the work truck, a nice shiny new RAM. And he refused medical help, even tho he complained of being… “dizzy” and “blacking out.” And get this, he actually tried to leave the scene, but a tree stump in my yard got in his way and his truck wouldn’t go any further. Maybe that was you, —- buddy??

  7. As for “Safe” injection sites, initially (a few years ago) when Sara George started pushing the idea, the Nurse in my head thought-“Hmmm___it might be a good idea to be in a more controlled setting”. Well-it didn’t take long for the rest of me to realize that it most likely would NOT be a good idea, and for all of the reasons being discussed here, and more. It just encourages the habit!!

  8. I’ve seen the political divide in this country as being more accurately described as Urban vs Rural, and there’s undeniable truth to that. I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t even more accurate to conceptualize it as Parents vs Children (of all ages).

    “I want a safe place for my children” vs “Don’t tell me what to do”.

  9. “What you permit you promote” , and we don’t need more drugs on the street with all the negative consequences.