by Guy Page
David Koch, the funding source of tonight’s PBS documentary on legalizing cannabis, was also a major funder of cannabis legalization.
“The Cannabis Question” will air on VPR/VT PBS airing at 7 pm tonight on NOVA. The longrunning documentary program is funded by the David H. Koch Fund for Science. Koch died in 2019.
“I have friends who smoke pot… It’s ridiculous to treat them as criminals,” Koch said on the Marijuana Majority website, speaking out with fellow public figures Jon Stewart, Arianna Huffington, former NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other legalization advocates.
Koch’s aggressive advocacy is nowhere mentioned in the VPR/PBS publicity for tonight’s program or the Q & A with Vermont officials to follow.
“As state-legalized cannabis spreads, NOVA investigates the latest scientific evidence for its potential benefits and risks, and how criminalization has disproportionately harmed communities of color,” a VPR/PBS statement says. “Join us for a screening of The Cannabis Question. Following the film, we’ll take your questions about the legalization of marijuana in Vermont for Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont’s Health Commissioner; James Pepper, Chair of the Vermont Cannabis Control Board; and Representative Maxine Grad, Chair of the Vermont House Judiciary Committee. Hosted by VPR’s Bob Kinzel.
At least two of the three Q & A guests have worked hard to pass marijuana legalization legislation. Grad shepherded the marijuana legalization bill through the Legislature.
As CCB chair, Pepper will oversee the state’s implementation and regulation of commercial production and sale of marijuana. According to his bio, Pepper has “advocated for and helped implement many of the criminal justice reform initiatives of the past five years, including expanding expungement eligibility and automatic expungement for cannabis convictions…. He helped to create systemic and sustained change in Vermont through his work on the Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel, the CHINS Reform Advisory Panel, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Panel, the Act 148 Working Group, the Marijuana Advisory Committee, and the Sentencing Commission. Pepper also worked for Governor Peter Shumlin as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Senior Policy Advisor. In this capacity, he developed the statutory framework of S.241 (2016), the first cannabis tax and regulate bill to pass either chamber of the Vermont legislature.”
Levine has warned against the dangers of youth exposure to marijuana and has advocated for extensive youth education as a condition of legalization.