There was a competition this past week among local politicians vying to deliver the most ignorant quote on marijuana legalization.
State Rep. Brad Jones Jr., the House Republican leader, emerged as an early leader, telling the Boston Globe, “I just don’t understand how we can be in this headlong rush to legalize when we’re dealing with the opioid crisis in the state.” Jones, not surprisingly, chose to ignore science; last year, for example, the JAMA Internal Medicine network published research that shows opioid related deaths are down 25 percent in states with functioning medical marijuana programs.
Jones also ignored the work of people like Miriam Boeri, an associate professor of sociology at Bentley University who recently published an article titled, “Can medical marijuana curb the heroin epidemic?” For her study, Boeri interviewed hundreds of opiate addicts; she wrote me in an email, “Marijuana helps (some) to stop using hard drugs—but it is difficult to get out that message. I try my best.”
Rep. Jones did not respond to a request for follow-up.
Upping the crazy, MassLive reported that Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan insanely stated, “today’s marijuana is so powerful it is defined as hashish.” It’s almost too stupid to comment on. Then there is perennial jackass Michael O’Keefe, the Cape and Islands district attorney who recently quipped, “We ought to turn ourselves into Denver, Colorado, where gummy bears are littering the streets that are made of marijuana?”
Looks like we have a winner.
But what’s really going on? Just as happened in the run-up to successful cannabis reform initiatives in 2008 and 2012, the opposition, funded by drug treatment and law enforcement campaign contributions, are going insane over the thought that citizens will get their say. After all, there’s big money in maintaining the status quo. Less pot, more addicts, more money for treatment funding.
Case-in-point: former Mass Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, who now works in drug treatment and received a major pay increase while bringing home more funding for her Cape Cod Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Initiative. I’m sure DA O’Keefe has no objections.