Image by Tak Toyoshima
About halfway through November, MassLive reported that Charlie Baker will campaign against an expected marijuana legalization initiative in 2016. As justification, the governor-elect cited the discredited gateway theory, which tells us that marijuana is “a significant first step to addiction of other drugs,” mirroring the utterly unscientific thinking of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. The two may be from different parties, but they plan on working together on this issue. Or this non-issue, really, since they’re going to lose.
Walsh and Baker should both know that they’re taking a significant first step toward alienating a majority of Mass voters for a campaign they cannot, will not win. It’s an absurd premise, because a 2016 initiative is not just in the works, but polling favorably across the board. Aren’t these guys politicians? Don’t they read the data?
You’d think they would have learned by now. After backing losing campaigns against marijuana reform initiatives in 2008 and 2012, Walsh should be waving a white flag. Especially considering this latest 2014 election, an off-year with a low turnout, in which the test-run to put legal weed on the ballot was a striking success. All 14 legalization questions saw victories, with even higher results than in past elections, showing obvious long-term momentum. And it all points to Massachusetts legalizing cannabis in 2016.
Let’s look at the priorities around here. There are more than 300 unsolved murders over the last decade in Boston alone. Schools are a mess. Don’t get me started on the Health Connector. And these guys are fighting weed? Are you serious?
I have a challenge, which I’ve based on Marijuana Policy Project of Maine Director David Boyer’s ambitious campaign to legalize marijuana there, and on the aforementioned absurdity of fighting it here. Boyer challenged local police chiefs to a shot-versus-puff contest, in which they would go one for one until, inevitably, the one of us who’s boozing drops. Like I said on my WEMF radio show, “The Young Jurks,” I challenge Baker to go beer-for-joint with me. Walsh doesn’t drink, but I’m sure he understands the point I’m trying to make about social hypocrisy.
Not surprisingly, I still haven’t heard back from the Baker camp, even though my video of the challenge has been making rounds. If we’re keeping score, I consider that a win, though not as big of one as marijuana advocates are going to have in 2016.