HEADIES OF STATE
Last week, Fox 25 News reporter Sharmen Sacchetti asked Governor Deval Patrick if he had anything to say to Massachusetts residents who advocate for the full legalization of weed, as has happened in Washington and Colorado. Instead of facing political reality, the governor responded with a cheap attempt at pot humor: “What have you been smoking, my dear?”
Patrick’s been running a marijuana comedy act for some time, and with limited success. Recently, he’s grown increasingly lame in dodging the legalization question. This despite historic ballot initiative victories for decriminalization in 2008, and for medical use four years after. Like I said at the Boston Freedom Rally two years ago–medical in 2012, and full legal in 2016. Marijuana advocates know damn well this is no longer a laughing matter. We’re hardly all frat boys over here. That said, it’s ironic that elected pols like Patrick are still joking as if we don’t take things seriously. The schtick is transparent.
It’s all very ironic, because Patrick seems shrewd enough to know that he can no longer afford to deny our voice. In Massachusetts, weed reform has the votes. That’s power. The issue of marijuana in our state will keep winning with significant majorities. No matter the final wording or language of upcoming ballot initiatives, passage is more or less guaranteed. Mark my words. The governor may joke, but we’ll have the last laugh.
The governor hasn’t been alone in treating pot reform absurdly. Republicans have also recently exhaled their own share of reckless mirth. Take Kentucky Republican State Rep. Robert Benvenuti, who recently told a room packed with medical weed backers he could also fill a room with parents whose children died from marijuana. As much fun as that sounds, it’s of course impossible. As for an audience of people who fell dead asleep from Benvenuti’s routine, that may less hard hard to come by.
Mass gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem went on Boston Herald Radio to call for more living wage jobs in the commonwealth. Counter-intuitively, though, she also spoke out against marijuana legalization, which could be one of the most promising statewide job growth opportunities in the near future. Digging deeper into contradiction, Kayyem then went on to state that she seeks criminal justice reform. The hosts, Hillary Chabot and Jaclyn Cashman, let the double-talk slide, instead shooting for sensationalism, asking, “Have you smoked weed?” Kayyem cornily admitted she was an extremely uncool past pot smoker. Still, now she sides against the majority of voters on legalization, even while tweeting nuggets and niceties like, “Smoking pot got me grounded a month, then forgiveness. We shouldn’t throw kids away for similar youthful indiscretions.” The campaign to replace Patrick has only just begun, but Kayyem has already shown a willingness to milk reform issues for political gain, acknowledging the plague of nonviolent drug arrests without pledging to actually do much about it.
Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe recently told the Boston Globe that legalizing marijuana would send “a signal to children that marijuana is okay.” Ignoring the reality that many kids sling weed because it is illegal, profitable, and glamorized, O’Keefe then further insulted the public’s intelligence, saying that he didn’t think voters were “gullible” enough to pass legalization. With in excess of 60 percent of Commonwealth voters backing legal, 65 percent having voted for decriminalization, and 63 percent pulling for medical in 2012, O’Keefe must be the one who thinks we’re gullible. These are landslide numbers that few political candidates (or at least those who face opponents) ever match. In 2008, more Massachusetts voters went for marijuana than Obama.
Even the often stubborn Margery Eagan sees this; in her latest Boston Herald screed on weed, the columnist conceded that “recreational pot will blow into [the] Bay State.” “Here’s the deal,” she writes. “The war on marijuana is over.” Yes it is. Not because of our cliché-mongering political leaders, but because of the popular desire to set it free.