Rolling Stone image of heroin user on maple syrup bottle sparks outrage


MONTPELIER, Vt. —A national magazine draws the ire of Vermonters with a graphic image depicting the state’s battle with heroin.

The move shocked and upset many Vermonters, including maple sugar makers.

Most said it’s not fair to link maple syrup to Vermont’s heroin crisis.

“Oh God, isn’t that awful,” Burr Morse said. “What are they thinking? They’re not thinking. The new face of heroin.”

Morse is a seventh-generation sugarer, making and selling Vermont’s liquid gold to tourists and locals alike. He says the depiction of a Vermonter, shooting up heroin on a maple syrup bottle is just wrong.

“It’s tragic. It’s just tragic that this outfit would use such a blatant lack of common sense for gosh sake,” Morse said.

The word is spreading on social media, too. Vermonters upset about the way heroin is being portrayed in the state have taken to the Rolling Stone Facebook page. If you scroll down, nearly every comment is from an angry Vermonter.

“At first blush, I saw it and I thought wow, there’s our Vermont maple syrup product with a very different picture than we’re used to seeing on it,” Vermont Deputy Tourism Commissioner Steve Cook said.

Tourism is a nearly $2-billion-a-year industry in Vermont, but Cook said it’s too soon to tell if the picture will have any impact on people’s travel decisions.

“After having a chance to read the article, it’s a much better portrayal of the challenges facing Vermonters are facing and the proactive approach that Vermont is taking to face this problem head on,” Cook said.

Still many say, it’s a sour image that’s tainting Vermont’s sweetest industry.

“I think understanding that there’s a problem with drugs in Vermont is a good thing. I don’t think that is,” Julie Roy said as she was enjoying sugar on snow at Morse Farm and Maple Sugarworks.

“It’s just infuriating for anyone to suggest that there might be a connection,” Morse said.

Gov. Peter Shumlin , who is quoted in the Rolling Stone article, released this statement:

“We are part of a really important national conversation and no single photograph is going to change that.  While it is very disappointing and hurtful that Rolling Stone would alter an iconic image so important to Vermont just to be provocative, I don’t think we should make too much of it and it certainly will not deter us from this important work.”

A request for comment from Rolling Stone magazine was not immediately returned.

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Thoughts? Vika


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