At least, that’s the summary of the proposal the city clerk had prepared for the council and was plastered at the top of the comment cards available in the room. But wait, was that actually their proposal?
Kate McNally, program manager for “Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities”, despite being the person who started this awful political process spoke first and explained that her group was NOT asking the city to prohibit the use of nicotine, just the sale. She seems to realize that criminalizing possession would allow police to target young people for harassment and spoke against that clearly. In a perfect example of how you don’t control the government once you set it in motion, the majority of the committee voted 3-1 to ask city staff to write up an ordinance that would prohibit both sale AND possession of nicotine by people under 21 in Keene. That includes tobacco and all vaporizing products like vape pens and nicotine juice.
Congrats, Ms. McNally – you started this hoping to control just the merchants and you got more than you bargained for. The ban hammer is going to swing much farther and harder than even you wanted.
The council members ignored the pleas of various people including downtown merchants, industry associations, and individuals. No amount of logic and persuasion worked. The history and continued failure of prohibition meant nothing to them. It didn’t matter that the lady from Keene Middle School admitted the failure of nicotine prohibition on their campus. Despite the fact that it’s ALREADY illegal for them to buy and possess, even middle schoolers are using nicotine.
Here’s the full hearing including all testimony minus a quick battery change:
Though the owner of Monadnock Vapor, Daniel Cavallero, pointed out they’d just be creating a black market, the councilors still believe in the failed, authoritarian, sick dream of prohibition and voted to move ahead with drafting the ordinance. Next, the full city council will vote on the committee’s recommendation at next week’s Thursday meeting. Presuming that happens, city staff will draft a prohibition ordinance which will then receive a public hearing in front of the same committee.
Only one councilor, Bob Sutherland, heroically voted against the proposal. He also asked some good questions of McNally toward the end of the hearing. Sadly, he’s the only councilor on the committee who has his sanity.
Live free or die, unless you’re in Keene. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest on this madness.