National marijuana legalization founders pushing legal prostitution in VT

by Guy Page

The two founders of the Marijuana Policy Project have senior leadership positions in Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW), a national group promoting the decriminalization of prostitution in Vermont.

Funding at least one Vermont-based organization called The Ishtar Collective, DSW seeks to build on its success in 2021, which it says was its best year yet towards reaching the goal of decriminalizing prostitution in the United States.

According a press statement, DSW helped pass 2021 laws in New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island.

In New York, two legislative actions were signed into law. One expands the ability of survivors of human trafficking to expunge their criminal records. This means people who were forced to commit crimes by their traffickers now have the potential to move on with their lives without the impediment of a criminal record. The other abolished the “Walking While Trans” law. People can no longer be arrested for “loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution offense,” which DSW says “was used by police overwhelmingly to target trans persons of color.”

New Hampshire and Vermont both enacted so-called “Good Samaritan” laws, which protect sex workers from arrest should they seek police protection from assault. These laws were passed with bipartisan support and signed by Republican governors Phil Scott and Chris Sununu.

The Vermont law, Act 29, was signed into law in May 17. The first section of this two-pronged bill broadens the definition of child sex abuse, giving prosecutors more tools to go after sexual predators. The second gives prostitutes immunity from prosecution for prostitution and drug offenses if being a police informant exposes their own crimes. Also, the Burlington City Council Dec. 13 voted to remove language about prostitution from its City Charter. Their decision requires approval from voters and the Vermont Legislature.

In Rhode Island, the House of Representatives created a legislative study commission to review how laws impact prostitutes “and other marginalized populations.”

DSW senior staff include two (male) founders of the Marijuana Policy Project, Political Director Robert Kampia and IT Director Michael Kirshner. The MPP worked for 15 years to legalize marijuana in Vermont, finally succeeding last year with S54, establishing a regulated market for cannabis. Until last year, the Texas-based organization was known as The Legalization Project, which “focuses on (1) ending marijuana prohibition in the United States and (2) ending prostitution in the United States.”

DSW claims prostitution is “not inherently dangerous or exploitative, but criminalization puts sex workers at risk and creates conditions that allow for trafficking to proliferate.”

That claim is disputed by Maggie Kerrin, Vermont Chair of New Englanders Against Sexual Exploitation (NEASE). Sex trafficking is inherently dangerous and cannot be made safe by either regulated legalization or decriminalization–as the evidence shows where both have been tried, Kerrin said.

“The evidence that decriminalized prostitution fails to produce its purported benefits is overwhelming. Both full decriminalization (eliminating prostitution from the criminal code) and legalization (establishing prostitution as a specific type of regulated business) have been tried in the United States and in dozens of other nations and have never produced the benefits promised by advocates,” Kerrin said in recent testimony to the Burlington City Council. “The relaxation or elimination of criminal restrictions on prostitution have reliably produced the opposite effects – increasing the size of the commercial sex and sex trafficking markets, and increasing the risks and harms experienced by all of those in these markets.”

Act 29 is just the first step, a Vermont advocate funded by DSW says.

“Permitting sex workers to come forward to report being the victim of or witness to a crime without fear of arrest is critical, but I’m looking forward to the day when we will no longer be as vulnerable to crime or exploitation as we are now. That day will come when consensual adult sex work is decriminalized,” said J. Leigh Oshiro-Brantly, co-founder of The Ishtar Collective, a Vermont based sex workers rights coalition, and research and project manager at Decriminalize Sex Work. The Ishtar website says Oshiro-Brantley is a filmmaker who has been a sex worker in Vermont since 2012.

The DSW website refers to the Ishtar Collective as “a DSW grantee.” For those unfamiliar with The Ishtar Collective, here’s an excerpt from its website mission statement:

“We are queer, trans, cis, nonbinary, black, brown, indigenous, white, asian, multiracial, neurotypical and neurodivergent. Most of us come from trauma, violence, and some of us are formerly incarcerated or living with disabilities. We are committed to acknowledging the land we occupy. We recognize the indigenous culture and people that existed in N’dakinna (Homeland) long before Europeans arrived in North America. We commit to policies and practices of cultural equity to benefit current and future generations.”

A statement from its December 30 press release shows that any progress is Vermont is merely a stepping stone in a national strategy: “As a national organization pursuing a state-by-state strategy to decriminalize and destigmatize consensual adult sex work, Decriminalize Sex Work works with local organizations, advocates, and lobbyists to build community support and convince legislators to stop prostitution-related arrests. Decriminalize Sex Work plans to capitalize on the momentum to decriminalize consensual adult prostitution gained in 2021.”

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26 replies »

  1. Why not just legalize shooting galleries and reduced sentences for drive-by shootings while they’re at it…I mean, in for a penny, in for a pound right…Then we can be just like our big sister liberal state, California ,except without the quaint weather…I can see Scott pulling his finger out of his backside and sticking it up in the air for direction on that.

  2. Vermont is now a nationally-recognized petri dish for experimentation in leftist initiatives and bad haircuts…where law abiding, self-sufficient people are now the “marginalized community”.

    • You’re echoing what I’ve said for quite some time. There have even been people brought in in order to sway the outcome of elections.
      VT is at the center of an effort to take over the Anti-Psychiatric movement. Protest forced psychiatric drugging except for puberty blockers given to children.

      • Good point…there was quite an uproar a few years back in Vermont over the issue of forced medications for psychiatric conditions, mainly because the patient could not make an informed choice. No problem now for a 4th grader who likes to dress a little unusual to be steered into transgenderism by an activist teacher.

      • Teachers should not be “activists”, nor agitators, nor should the teachers’ unions, nor the Dept of Ed. We’ve only had a Dept of Ed since the 1970’s. Who does it serve?

  3. Was in Middlebury recently and was stunned to see a very heavily tarted up woman on the streets in midday. There was no doubt as to what she was selling,

    It’s already here folks. This state is an utter cesspool.

  4. Hedonism in all its “glory”. VT is failing fast. How tragic & sad – once a state of independent thinkers, proud Americans, & libertarian ideology that was proud to have the distinction of the safest state in the nation has turned into a wretched hell hole.

  5. Wrong direction!
    At the end of the day if no one purchased commercial sex, the crime of sex trafficking wouldn’t exist. Therefore, it is imperative that we address the issue of demand in order to create a culture where the buying and selling of human beings for another’s sexual gratification is not looked upon as normal behavior.
    It is not only not normal, it is evil both to do and to promote

  6. If you see the condition of cities run by Dem/Progs, you see it here. Welcome to Pervmont. They are destroying our country and they are well embedded and organized to destroy out State.

  7. One more reason people will leave Vt. At least the decent people and allow pimps and people who take advantage of woman to move in to make money off of them. Vt should be ashamed of even considering it. Wake up people!

  8. In 1991 I followed my dog into a police stakeout of a forest weed patch & spent over a year in court to finally be found not guilty by jury, so the pot laws really had to go as so many lives were ruined for a plant producing mild euphoria. After getting Hep-C from a surgery with brutal nausea I testified in Montpelier for med-weed in 2003 and 2007 and watched it go from de-crim to legalization and the sky didn’t fall. But NOW we’ve come to shooting galleries (“harm reduction”?) for junkies and whores plying their wares? And THIS while we see gangs shooting each other over turf and crack sales? How is THIS remotely even “progressive”? If THIS is “progress” you can label me a Luddite & count me out, like the crime waves now playing in major cities will these laws/policies ever be rescinded as society implodes? One thing I’ve learned is the “lawmakers” NEVER admit being wrong or making mistakes even as they duck to avoid the gunfire. They consider ALL criminals just “UVM’s”, Underprivileged, Vulnerable, & Marginalized, not “bad” people, just misunderstood! Buckle your safer belt as we’ve just entered Crazy Town, aka Bumington, Vermental.

    • Your wrong on one point. Only the recognized minority groupings receive empathy.
      Marijuana literally saved my life. In almost 40 years of use I’ve never turned to hard drugs, etc., except for a serious bout with alcohol. That ended 30 years ago

  9. When you hear a leftist utter the phrase “harm reduction strategy”, be very skeptical.
    This is yet another “harm reduction” strategy brought to us by the folks that proposed and implemented needle “exchange” programs. The needle programs were marketed to the public emphasizing the word “exchange” and argued that junkies could bring in their old needles and “exchange” them for new ones, one for one. Surprise, surprise, these programs turned out to be simply needle GIVEAWAY programs, and make no such demand that you bring in old ones. And their “harm reduction” strategy in the name of “public health” has resulted in many more blood-tainted syringes disposed of improperly in public places where children and pets are likely to contact them. That is a “public health” disaster that shifts the risk of HIV and hepatitis infection from the junkies who make the CHOICE to engage in the risky behavior onto innocent bystanders in public spaces. The advocates claim that society will be better served by bringing prostitution out in the open. For some people who are already hesitant to bring their small children shoe shopping in downtown Burlington, bringing this malaise out in the open may be the last straw that drives the shoppers out to Williston and So. Burlington. Decriminalization will NOT reduce human trafficking. Leftists have lost all semblance of common sense.

  10. Out of state money flowing into Vermont with an agenda to use our state as a “stepping stone” for a national campaign. A little money goes a long way in a small state, especially one with a liberal death grip on the legislature. Look what it has done for Bernie, same sex marriage, assisted suicide, CRT, and soon unquestioned abortion up to the moment before birth

    Perhaps one way to try out these “harm reduction” for “marginalized people” policies is to initially limit such initiatives to specific zones. For instance, prostitution and injections sites be allowed for the first year ONLY on Church Street in Burlington and State Street in Montpelier. At the end of the trail period a vote could be taken as to whether to expand this initiative or scrap it, depending upon how safe these areas proved to be.

  11. So many of these new laws actually privilege the few while ignoring the many. Police have an obligation under Law to take complaints of assault seriously. We don’t need more laws to “protect” particular groups.

  12. These people are serving no good purpose. I’ve got no use for any of the garbage they are pushing.

    The only other thing I’d say is this, as the US economy and way of life continues to deteriorate……dont try to tell us it was all inevitable, or it was Trump or covid or any other BS. It’s plain and simple….we took the easy way…over and over! We expected the minimum, demanded no accountability, and avoided pain at every turn. Short term satisfaction and relief, at the expense of long term stability.

    Don’t you dare blame the few who weren’t stoned, drunk or faking sick. We went to work, didn’t cash in on government freebies, payed the crushing taxes and frantically tried to keep our families in order.

    Some people still have a strong shoulders, a clear head, and eyes with a vision for keeping the iron clad American experiment alive. BUT…as the number of those people dwindle, be careful….you’ll start to get everything you wanted…and as the show really takes off, there will be no hand of support and no soft or stable place left to rest your head. I might not have fought you hard enough….but don’t you blame me. I wasn’t for it.

  13. Sheesh! Who’s “blaming” anyone? We’re all adults here, no? After my only brother was drafted & killed in Vietnam I was headed rapidly downhill until I found weed, it sharpened my concentration, I hit the books in senior year, graduated at the top of my class & my term paper was used as curriculum for 20 years. I then did my apprenticeship & made parts for the medical/denatl field, all the Space Shuttles, the F-18 Hornet, etc, etc. What I chose to DO after work was nobody’s business & I never, ever drove intoxicated on ANYTHING. I had a great career w/no regrets. That being said allowing shooting galleries and filling the streets with prancing whores, all fully “legal” is a bit too much. Like the old timers said you can DO whatever you want as long as it doesn’t scare the dogs & horses. But to DEMAND these “services” for deadbeats, junkies, & whores to be PAID for by OUR taxes is beyond the pale. Maybe we should go back to the times before the “Pure Food & Drug Act” where everything is legal for FREE adults to do as they wish as long as it doesn’t HARM others or forces US to pay for the mistakes of others. Isn’t THAT a real FREE society?

  14. Most everone who comments here, is against drugs, prostitution, racists, BLM, school cirriculums etc. Who is left that votes these people into office?

    • They are the college kids of UVM & Middlebury, etc. who register to vote as citizens, but obviously don’t truly live here, George Soros funded politicians and their families, fraudulent voters including underage & illegals, and all the out-of-staters (NY, CT, NJ, Calif< etc.) who wrecked their states of origin & move here to come do it again. The true, genuine, long-term Vermonters are dead or dying: Just as the radicals love…..and their Chinese Covid which culled them helped!

  15. So is this how we want to gainfully employ human & drug traffickers who illegally crossed the U.S. southern border?

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