Several doctors, others warn Vermont not to legalize pot
By LISA RATHKE
Dec. 22, 2017
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — With the state Legislature expected to take up legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in the upcoming session, several doctors and other marijuana opponents on Friday urged the state not to legalize it.
The move would normalize the use of marijuana, leading to more people using it and in turn to more intoxicated people and more automobile crashes, said Dr. John Hughes, a University of Vermont psychiatrist and professor, at a Statehouse press conference on Friday.
"To me, we got it right with decriminalization," according to Hughes, who added that legalization and describing it as recreational use would send the wrong message.
Marijuana use cost a young North Carolina man his life in a car wreck in 2014, said his father, Darryl Rodgers, of Cary, North Carolina.
After smoking pot, Chase Rodgers let a young woman who didn't have a driver's license drive his car while he was a passenger. She drove off the road, and the car hit a tree. He died instantly. She took her own life in a fire months later, Darryl Rodgers said.
"It's a pain that never goes away," he said of his son's death.
Since Colorado legalized marijuana in 2014, automobile crashes are up and more young people are using the drug, which is being found more often in junior high schools and high schools, said Dr. Karen Randall, of Pueblo, Colorado, in a written statement read at the event.
"We know from both the tobacco industry and the alcohol industry, the true costs to society are almost impossible to calculate and certainly far exceed any revenue generated by tax money," she wrote. "The same is true for marijuana."
Vermont's Legislature became the first legislative body in the country to vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in May, but Republican Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the measure weeks later, saying he had concerns such as safeguards for children and highway safety.
Scott and the Legislature agreed on revisions to the bill in June. At the time Scott said he would sign the compromise bill if it passed.
While it is not a priority for Scott, he still expects to sign it if it passes, his spokeswoman said Friday.
This story has been corrected to show the dad's name is Darryl, not Daryl.