Tuesday November 20, 2012

It’s about time we
decriminalize marijuana

Editor of the Reformer:

Throughout this election season, GOP challenger Randy Brock criticized Gov. Peter Shumlin for supporting a reform of Vermont’s outdated marijuana laws. Vermonters listened but weren’t impressed with Brock’s "reefer madness" propaganda, choosing instead to re-elect the popular governor. Did Brock really believe opposing a sensible marijuana reform would help him win votes? If so, he should have looked at a few polls before forming his campaign strategy.

A poll conducted in February by Public Policy Polling found that only 15 percent of Vermont voters believe the federal government’s claim that alcohol is safer than marijuana. By contrast, 75 percent believe marijuana is as safe or safer than alcohol, and voters support reducing possession penalties by a more than two-to-one margin.

Considering that it is widely known by both many police officers and the public that marijuana does not cause the harm that alcohol does, there would be no rationale to continue spending limited law enforcement resources on small-time marijuana offenses. As a former member of the House Corrections committee I found that the money being spent on marijuana prosecutions could be better used for protecting our communities from dangerous crime.

Governor Shumlin’s victory shows Vermont is ready to decriminalize marijuana. He should be commended for supporting the responsible decriminalization of marijuana, and the House and Senate should work with the governor to pass this important legislation in 2013.

Daryl Pillsbury,

Brattleboro, Nov. 12

No one should have
to work on a holiday

Editor of the Reformer:

The employees of a national retailer who are walking out because Black Friday is starting on Thanksgiving night are right on. They should not have to work on a holiday. No one should have to work a holiday. Some jobs, like in the medical field or those at war, and other absolutely necessary jobs that are 24/7 must work holidays, but let’s not make a bad situation worse. Why is it necessary to now open up Thanksgiving as a shopping day?

What about Christmas? Will stores now open on Christmas morning to handle returns? And those after Christmas sales Š will they begin on Christmas Eve?

There’s something fundamentally wrong about what I see is a trend in the making. Let’s just do away with all holidays and go shopping instead. Isn’t our culture already too commercial with presents being the highlight of Christmas instead of what Christmas is? But Thanksgiving has not been a commercial holiday Š It’s all about food and family and giving thanks for our bounty Š a stress-free holiday, I think.

Holidays have traditionally brought families together. At least once or twice a year on these major holidays, families strive to get together and celebrate with a good meal and good times. No one is working. They are enjoying the day.

We are given too few days to connect. In today’s world, the main connection is this Internet, e-mail, texting, cell phones Š quick connections. Holidays offer something different -- one-on-one time with those you love; time off; rest; a chance to get away from the stress.

I think the trend is going in the wrong direction. If anything, we in the U.S. have fewer holidays and vacation time than others around the world. And now we’re planning to turn these into shopping/working/any old day days? I say no. You will not find me out shopping on Thanksgiving or Christmas. I will make it a point to keep my holidays intact.

Who is responsible for this new trend? The real power to stop this nonsense is in shoppers’ hands.

Gail Gullotti,

Dummerston, Nov. 16

Reflecting on our compassionate community

Editor of the Reformer:

After an exhausting day at work and a quick trip to the store, I was finally on my way home when I came across an old pickup truck with Massachusetts license plates traveling 35mph in a 50mph zone; I was fourth in line.

In a few moments I began to realize that all of the cars behind this truck were spaced out in such a way that no one’s bumpers were in danger of being nudged along. As the line of cars behind me grew, amazingly they too kept their respectful distance; no one honked their horns, flashed their lights or attempted to pass the truck. When the limit dropped to 40 mph, the truck slowed down to 30 and I couldn’t help but marvel how the other drivers seemed to understand that this persons dignity should remain intact, that they were deserving of understanding.

Father Rich, my pastor, gave a sermon last month in which he noted, "You don’t know what kind of day that person had; it could have been the worst day of their lives." I am grateful to live in a community where daily, so many openly give evidence to the compassion that is preached about on the weekends.

Norma Manning,

Vernon, Nov. 16