Legal pot wins, but so does Trump
For the capacity crowd gathered at Lir on Boylston Street to cheer on Question 4, Election Night was an emotional seesaw on steroids. One minute all voices were lifted together to cheer legal pot as the Yes vote on Question 4 passed 50 percent and held its lead. The next minute, each face was isolated in disbelieving pain as Trump took over the map of (what used to be) America. By night’s end, legal marijuana seemed like a newborn babe abandoned in the dark woods of a Trump regime.
On reconsideration, for those in Massachusetts, legal pot may be more imperiled here in the state than on the federal level. There’s a lot we don’t know. Trump has said he will respect the right of states to make marijuana legal or illegal within their borders. That could change if Trump appoints as his attorney general Chris Christie, who has vowed to enforce federal laws against marijuana with all available resources. But even with Christie leading the charge, the feds don’t really have enough boots to stomp out recreational marijuana, raid by raid, across the eight states where it is now legal, not to mention the 28 states that allow medical use.
In Mass, on the other hand, legislators who ignored the will of the voters for decades may leap to subvert it the minute it’s been expressed. Expect proposals to ban edibles, to outlaw home cultivation, and especially to jack up taxes to 30 percent or more. Governor Baker supposedly hates raising taxes, but he may make an exception for something as sinful as cannabis, while state treasurer Deborah Goldberg has already called for raising taxes, delaying the opening of stores, and abolishing home cultivation. Not surprisingly, a Herald editorial also called for raising taxes and abolishing homegrown.
In addition, the Cannabis Control Commission created by the new law may make regulations concerning the sale and transport of marijuana that are expensive to comply with, and that make it hard for legal businesses to compete with the black market.
But let’s take a moment to be proud of ourselves. The governor, the mayor, and even the cardinal found that when they spoke with a united voice, they were not very powerful. A majority of voters danced around them and voted for Question 4 and freedom.
Still, we’re going to face legal pushback, and we need to keep fighting for legal pot. We’ll need a lot of it in the Trump years ahead.
Andy Gaus is a Massachusetts-based cannabis advocate and a member of MassCann-NORML.