- Bryan Parmelee
- A Vermont pothole farm.
“Today marks a historic day for all the recreational pothole users in this state,” exclaimed asphalt fatigue advocate Barry Withersmore. “No longer will our citizens need to feel like criminals just for experimenting with one of the state’s many potent strains of pothole.”
Prior to the law’s signing, pothole legalization had become the subject of recurring rigorous debate in the Vermont Statehouse.
“We’ve really studied and debated this issue to death over the past couple of years,” said Rep. Meredith Janeway (R-Grand Isle). “In the meantime, pothole cultivation has become so prevalent in this state that it’s now pretty much pointless to even try and do anything about it anyway.”
Vermont law enforcement officials agreed, and acknowledged the difficulty in containing the spread of homegrown “pothole farms” throughout the state.
“It’s like as soon as we shut down one of these operations, you got a whole highway of this shit popping up somewhere else,” explained Detective Buzz Harsher. He estimated the current number of Vermont potholes as "at least 12 bazillion."
"Why waste any further resources fighting something that grows so naturally and effortlessly in this climate?” continued the detective, adding that he sees the law “as a huge step forward.” But, he said, “I have no idea what we’re going to do with all the pothole-sniffing dogs we’ve trained.”
Other state officials decried the law as reckless and as "giving up" on Vermonters.
“I think people wrongly view this as a rural issue, when in reality it’s already right here in our city streets,” exclaimed Health and Human Services administrator Gwendolyn Chagrin. “Rough winters, like the one we’re currently experiencing, only increase the likelihood that you’ll come face to face with a pothole right in your own community," she continued. "And it’s harder than you might expect to avoid abusing them.”
Due to strict federal regulations, research into potholes has been limited. But some Vermont physicians said they have reason to believe prolonged use can have negative health impacts.
“Just a month’s worth of daily pothole hitting is the equivalent of driving your car head-on into a brick wall at 48 miles per hour,” warned Dr. Roger Sayahhh. “I agree it shouldn’t be criminalized, but it’s beyond me why people continue to dump money into repairing their vehicles when they’re so likely to just slide right back into pothole use.”
Sayahhh is one of many doctors who say that potholing is a "gateway" into just sending your car off of a cliff and pursuing alternate forms of transportation altogether.
“I understand there’s nothing we can do to stop the spread of potholes,” he said. “I just wish the state could repurpose some of the money they’ve already spent on temporarily filling in these holes toward repairing the vehicles whose lives have already been destroyed.”
Lawmakers said they are also considering a bill that would automatically expunge any and all charges of aggravated vehicleslaughter brought against pothole cultivators prior to the legalization law going into effect.
The Parmelee Post is a weekly series featuring tough investigative reporting on news that hasn't happened.