Ed. note: These are not actual images of the gubernatorial candidates smoking pot
I invite all reporters, interviewers, and commentators in Mass to plagiarize the rest of this column by asking these questions of all candidates for governor:
1. Do you favor legal recreational marijuana in Massachusetts or should the prohibition continue? If it should continue, what advantages has it brought us and what good does it promise for the future? Has it been effective in cutting off access to minors?
2. Do you think legal marijuana will pass in 2016? If so, should the matter be left to a citizens’ initiative, or would it be better for the legislature to take up the matter before then?
3. Are you aware of the quickening pace of research on cannabis and cannabis extracts to treat a wide range of diseases? Do you want some of that groundbreaking research to happen in Massachusetts? If so, will you work to break down obstacles at the state and federal level to make that possible?
4. State tobacco taxes are sky high, and the state is awash in bootleg cigarettes, 40 percent of the market in Boston by one estimate. Do you agree that immoderate taxes and fees end up supporting an underground economy? If so, will you work to avoid excessive taxes and fees on marijuana?
5. Medical marijuana passed in 2012, and patients still cannot get access in 2014. What will you do about that, and how quickly? Is it acceptable to you that patients should be denied their medicine for years while a long political process plays out?
6. The current medical marijuana law does not allow patients to grow marijuana at home once dispensaries are open. Do you think the government has any business telling patients not to grow a sufficient supply for themselves? If a 2016 initiative doesn’t render the point moot by legalizing home-grow for everyone, will you work to amend the medical law in favor of the patients?
7. Both medical and recreational marijuana users are currently violating federal law, which treats marijuana as a Schedule I drug (as dangerous as heroin, with no medical uses). Does that make sense? If not, will you call on this president and the next president if necessary to remove marijuana from Schedule I?
So what do you say, Martha, Charlie, Scott, Evan, and Jeff?
Oh, Deval. I didn’t see you there. Still around, are you? Well, do you want to be governor, at least for a few more months? Department of Public Health regulations created on your watch now require each patient who needs marijuana to be grown for him or her to find a separate “caregiver,” which for many patients has proven impossible and effectively cut off access. In case you’ve forgotten about the matter, activist Nichole Snow recently hand-delivered a petition to you asking you to intervene. Did you read it?
You have sounded the alarm about the abuse of opioid drugs like Oxycontin and Oxycodone. Has it occurred to you that making cannabis more available might decrease the number of patients who turn to opioids? If so, will you tell the DPH to issue some dispensary licenses soon and ease up on caregivers in the meantime? And could you talk to your friend the POTUS about that Schedule I classification? Even moving it to Schedule II (dangerous, but with medical uses) would stop making criminals of sick people.
So get to work, pundits. Use these questions to smoke the candidates out on this issue. We know that five people want to be governor. We need to know if anyone wants to show leadership.