If marijuana is legalized in New Hampshiire, it should pay down retirement system debt

To the Editor:

The Jan. 19 Sunday News reported the House vote to legalize marijuana in New Hampshire.

Three of Bedford’s representatives voted to legalize the substance. The Jan. 30 Union Leader reports the state is already counting the money it will receive if the drug is legalized.

Interestingly, none of the three Bedford proponents sought the opinion of the Chief of Police John Bryfonski before making their vote. Bryfonski has spent his adult life in law and drug enforcement. He came to Bedford after retiring as a senior level member of the Drug Enforcement Agency, heading up the Philadelphia office. The chief’s email response to me does not support “legalization.” “I am against it, but wasn’t asked.”

So, how do the representatives determine a “sense of Bedford” before casting their “representative” vote particularly on controversial issues?

The several Bedford representatives (only one proponent) who attended the Jan. 29 joint meeting of the Bedford Town Council, School Board and House and Senate representatives told the resident participants that the House is only now, after the vote, beginning to think about the ramifications of legalization. As marijuana remains illegal at the federal level and thus the revenue cannot be handled in the same manner as legal state revenues, “handling the money” is the Legislature’s pressing concern.

If the state persists in shortsightedly legalizing marijuana “for the money,” I have a recommendation. The drug money should be used to pay down the $4.5 billion and growing deficit of the New Hampshire Retirement System before finding other uses and the NHRS’s unfunded obligation leads to more financial troubles.

If the state can figure out how to legalize marijuana, they can surely figure out how to use the drug revenue for a dangerous deficit, which the Legislature is directly responsible for as it established the NHRS and then reneged on its commitment. Let’s consider the taxpayers who are strapped with the NHRS obligation. Better yet, do not legalize marijuana.

I support the joint meeting concept; a great way to keep in touch with our local and state elected officials.

BILL DERMODY

Bedford