Dear Chairman O'Brien, and others.
I wanted to appear in person for tonight's meeting (Wednesday Gilford Selectmen meeting), but was called away at the last minute for an out-of-state business meeting. So instead, I am writing you to express collective opposition to any ordinance that would introduce prohibitive market measures against herbal incense products in NH.
We are a volunteer organizations that represents a vast collection of individuals who support the herbal incense industry and work to preserve American's freedom of choice. It's important to note up front that we have nothing to do with bath salt products). We share some constituents in Gilford; many whom are concerned that lessons learned from 80+ years of failed market prohibition policy in the US may be ignored by town administrators during these considerations. These taxpayers want the Gilford Selectmen to understand that making market-demanded products illegal only serve to create a violent criminal black market where none existed before and repeats costly mistakes made in the past (please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_in_the_United_States#Organized_crime).
There is no shortage of data supporting the failure government attempts to regulate/controlling market-demanded substances. Some highlights include:
- The United States (land of the free) has the highest prison population rate in the world, with half of the federal prison population imprisoned solely for drug-related offenses at an annual cost of $30,000 per inmate and $5,000 per probationee. (108,000 drug related offenders in federal prisons as of April 2010, and 280,000 people in state prisons across the country as of June 2007).
- Despite heavy government regulation and public education, Tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, with more than 80% of U.S. smokers starting well before 18 years old (3,800 underage smokers starting every day, according to the federal CDC).
- Also according to the CDC, despite heavy government regulation and public education, the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days:
- 42% drank some amount of alcohol.
- 24% binge drank.
- 10% drove after drinking alcohol.
- 28% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.
Chairman O'Brien, in a recent editorial, you stated that, "for many years in different positions in the town government", you felt that "the local government should act like a business". As you know, businesses create success by setting measurable goals that are measurable and obtainable. Businesses also recognize the undeniable force of the market. To that end, there is absolutely no evidence that prohibitive market policies accomplish any success within there merits. None! And here's the simple reason: Market prohibition fails because it tries to legislate the elimination of a supply, whereas education succeeds by reducing the market demand. The economic law of supply and demand tells us prohibition will always result in a price increase and big incentives to break the law. .
In terms of precedence, a NH State House Committee struck down a recent proposed prohibitive bill against herbal incense as "inexpedient to legislate" after recognizing that herbal incense products poised no greater harm to the public than other products that the state was already profiting from (alcohol and tobacco). They also recognized that attempting to legislate against a limitless class of products which cannot be identified by constitutionally supported legislative language would be a futile effort and a waste of state resources (The Gilford Budget Committee would likely tell you that every new ordinance requires people, systems, and resources to enact and enforce).
Malcolm X had said, "You can't legislate good will - that comes through education”. Some criticism has befallen our upon our industry.from media stories of individuals who irresponsibly misused herbal incense and experienced unintended consequences. It is generally understood and accepted that there will always be some consumers who choose to misuse products (like paint, glue, whipped cream, markers, mouthwash, herbal incense etc.) as euphoriants. For this reason, our industry members have long adopted our voluntary self-regulation policies to ensure that herbal incense products are only to be sold to people aged 18 and older, and marked "Not for Human consumption".
The bottom line is that assuming risk (personal or financial) is as American as apple pie. In fact, our country was founded on the principal of freedom to assume risk and the personal responsibility for it. On top of that, the very essence of prohibition is built around the unconstitutional premise that the United States government has the authority to compel Americans to not purchase any private product that legislators assume can be harmful when misused, as a condition of lawful residence. If this is true, then there will be virtually no limit on the government's ability to regulate an individual's life.
In closing, we feel it is important for parents and communities to educate (not legislate) those who are ignorant to the effects of personal risk. We also recognize that any product in any market can be harmful if misused/abused, and that substance abuse can be risky. As such, we would like to offer to collaborate with Deb LaLiberte, the head of the Gilford Drug and Alcohol Task Force and Police Chief Kevin Keenan as volunteers to create / donate educational materials outlining the general risks of substance abuse for your community. Please contact me if you wish to pursue this option and thank you for your time.
About the Herbal Incense Industry:
Herbal incense products have been traded freely and responsibly in the US for several years, generally between job-creating, law-abiding, and tax paying small business owners and a demanding market of adult consumers who who seek therapeutic and/or enjoyment from herbal incense products. In fact, products have been been subscribed clinically for over 30 years. Only until last year, negative one-sided media coverage sparked a political “witch hunt” where prohibitive measures have been frantically called for, with little regard for verifiable facts, fiscal and social impact analysis, historical considerations, or constitutional protections of freedom of choice.