Image by Tak Toyoshima
BIG LIES emerge against legal marijuana in Mass
For the past few weeks, opponents of legalization have been piling on. A now-infamous op-ed by the Commonwealth’s governor, attorney general, and most powerful mayor in the Boston Globe. The report of the state Senate committee on marijuana. A declaration of the Massachusetts Hospital Organization. Against, against, against. Arguments range from the anticipated evils of Big Marijuana (apparently the only kind of business that shouldn’t be big) to the dangers of edibles. But two arguments—both equally spurious—stand out as candidates for the Big Lie treatment in the coming campaign.
- “Legal marijuana will be more available to minors.” More available than the current 100 percent? Well, perhaps a few minors can’t get ahold of any weed, but if so, it’s because they have no friends. Kids themselves, when surveyed, respond that alcohol is harder to get than marijuana because it’s sold in stores where they check ID. But what do the kids themselves know about what is and isn’t available to them? Surely not as much as our wise legislators.
- “We already have an opioid crisis, we don’t want marijuana too.” This, of course, is also the opposite of the truth. Cannabis therapy is one of the principal alternatives to opioids, and the availability of medical cannabis has been shown to lower opioid deaths by 25 percent in states that have implemented medical marijuana (which, of course, doesn’t include Massachusetts). This line of falsification is particularly disappointing coming from a governor who has publicly vowed to fight the opioid epidemic with every tool at his disposal—except, apparently, cannabis.
We can’t let prohibitionists create the vague feeling that legal marijuana “just isn’t safe.” We need to counter loud and strong—and soon—that marijuana is safer than alcohol and legalization is safer than prohibition. And so, to my colleagues at MassCann, our allies at the Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and other interested parties, I offer, royalty-free, the following slogans, suitable for billboards, bumper stickers and hand-lettered signs, not to mention sound bites and protest chants:
- MARIJUANA—SAFER THAN ALCOHOL
- LEGAL MARIJUANA WITH AGE REGULATIONS—SAFER FOR OUR KIDS
- TAKE MARIJUANA SALES OFF STREET CORNERS: LEGAL MARIJUANA—SAFER FOR OUR NEIGHBORHOODS
- LEGAL, REGULATED MARIJUANA—SAFER FOR CONSUMERS
- CANNABIS THERAPY—SAFER THAN OPIOIDS
- LEGAL MARIJUANA—SAFER THAN PROHIBITION
Polls in Massachusetts have shown majorities for legalization, but that could be eroded if opponents create a thick enough smog of fear and uncertainty. If our side doesn’t come hammering back with the theme that legalization makes us safer, our prospects in November aren’t safe either.
Andy Gaus is a Massachusetts-based cannabis advocate and a member of MassCann-NORML.