Image by Scott Murry
Last week, something truly unexpected happened. During a debate between the Democratic candidates vying to be governor of Massachusetts, Boston Herald Opinion Page Editor Shelly Cohen posed an inquiry put forward by yours truly: “We have a question from Twitter for Juliette Kayyem from @mikecannboston who asks, ‘Do you support legalizing all pot?’ as he put it.”
In reality, it wasn’t precisely how I’d “put it.” But Cohen was close enough, especially considering my routine attacks on her paper’s tragically awful coverage of marijuana. Their wonks, including on their streaming radio station, have largely proven themselves incapable of getting beyond giggles in regards to (now former) candidate Juliette Kayyem’s past pot use.
Before failing to qualify for the primary ballot at last weekend’s state Democratic convention in Worcester, Kayyem spent the aforementioned debate dancing around past statements about prohibition and joking about her teen years. But this time Cohen didn’t let Kayyem off the hook with just a chuckle, and in the process forced the candidate to concede her unfamiliarity with current state marijuana laws. In other words, Kayyem wanted to reform the system, but was unschooled on the most popular pot reform of all, legalization.
The others hardly fared any better. None support legalization. Poll leader and state Attorney General Martha Coakley yammered about health issues and cannabis-related accidents, of course citing zero statistics. Massachusetts Treasurer Steve Grossman chimed in about the failure to successfully implement medical marijuana here, yet offered no solutions for patients. What a leader. Grossman then stepped in more bullshit, “The process has been absolutely mismanaged,” he said, “so I’m not in favor of decriminalization.” (ed: He probably meant “legalization,” since weed has been decriminalized in the commonwealth for five years now.)”
Among the three Dems who will appear on the primary ballot in September, former Obama healthcare official Don Berwick is the only candidate who seems to care about medical marijuana patients. On the Republican side, expected nominee Charlie Baker has gone on the record as opposing legalization. All things considered, regardless of who makes either big party primary ballot, Mass pot reformers should probably consider the independent candidacy of Evan Falchuk, a former DC attorney and experienced healthcare executive. His published positions on pot may make more sense than everything the rest have said together. And so we’ll wrap this one with a few words from Falchuk’s issue papers …
It is clear that the prohibition on marijuana will end. It’s just a question of when, and how we plan for it. It’s time for lawmakers to begin serious discussions now on the key questions regarding taxation, regulation, barring underage use, and strengthening public health and education efforts …
Because so many people in our Commonwealth have been affected by the illegal market for marijuana, as the legal market develops, we have a particular responsibility to not only maintain careful oversight of this industry, but direct a portion of today’s proceeds toward common-sense, needed services – including job training and programs to assist reintegration for people previously incarcerated for drug-related offenses …