January 25, 2007

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Concord Publisher's Note: From pot to throw pillows
By†Dan Szczesny

Itís been a busy week in Concord-land ó from downtown aesthetics to drug legislation filling the headlines.

Weíre living in interesting times in the Capital city. The question is, has anyone noticed?

First up, the news that several Main Street interiors will be getting a face-lift from a Manchester design firm. This comes on the heels of another design debate, building a bus stop in front of the Capitol.

While all this window dressing is and should be an important consideration in maintaining the look and feel of downtown, it just seems like a distraction from the deeper problems facing the city. Fixing up the inside of law firms and banks that most of us will never set foot in is important to the folks who work there, I suppose, and debating the proper bus stop to build might be important if the state of public transportation in the city werenít in such shambles. But economic development is rarely a function of the color of curtains.

Letís hope that with all this attention being paid to how decorative Concord looks, city and community leaders also focus on getting those second and third stories filled with businesses. Further, the real work needs to take place outside the city, where itís up to organizations like the Chamber, Main Street Concord and the cityís economic development office to actually convince businesses to move here, and convince families to raise their kids here.

And honestly, thatís just going to become more difficult to do if our elected officials in the State House continue to propose such ridiculous legislation as the so- called ďpot bill.Ē

Keene state Rep. Charles Weed has proposed legislation that would legalize marijuana. And yes, his last name is actually Weed. It would be funny if he, and Rep. Steve Vaillancourt from Manchester and Rep. Paul Ingbretson from Pike, werenít so serious about getting it passed. (Vaillancourt might ring a bell with readers as the Democrat turned Republican who recently derailed Manchester city Democratic party head Ray Buckleyís bid for state Democrat party chair with allegations of personal misconduct. So, Vaillancourt has had a busy month.)

Anyway, itís one thing to argue that current laws are unfair to marijuana users or that marijuana can be legitimately used medicinally in some treatments. Thatís all true, and in fact, itís legal in nearly a dozen states to use for medical purposes. Those are reasonable points of debate.

But the argument that pot use is a victimless crime is unsupportable.

In fact, as if to illustrate that point, just two days after Rep. Weed proposed his ďpot billĒ Concord police were involved in a standoff on Hoit Road with a man who had barricaded himself inside his home after allegedly assaulting a woman and setting fires in the home. When police finally went in to get him, they found a small marijuana-growing operation.

To legislate for the hands-down legalization of pot just makes New Hampshire look silly and so far outside the realm of mainstream thinking that I canít imagine that being business- or family-friendly to any newcomer, regardless of the interior decorations.