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Marijuana: Massachusetts Gubernatorial Candidate Favors Legalization, Just Not During His Term

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #460)
Consequences of Prohibition
Politics & Advocacy

Democratic Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick has, according to recent polling, a huge lead on his opponent, Republican Lt. Gov. Kerry Kealey. It isn't because of the clarity of his position on marijuana policy.

At the fourth and final gubernatorial debate October 26, both major party candidates and two minor party candidates were asked the following question by the debate moderator: "Since the 1970s at least a dozen states have decriminalized the possession by adults of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Massachusetts is not one of them. In a 2003 Boston University study estimated that the thousands of arrests for pot possession each year cost more than $24 million in law enforcement resources. There's a bill before the legislature that would reduce the penalty for possession of less than an ounce to a $100 civil fine. Would you sign it if it reached your desk?"

After saying that he hoped the bill never reached his desk because that was not his priority, Patrick added that law enforcement should emphasize large drug traffickers and that the same person who provided marijuana to his drug addict uncle also provided him with heroin. He concluded his initial response by saying, "I'm very comfortable with the idea of legalizing marijuana. I just don't think it ought to be our priority."

The moderator was reduced to asking Patrick directly if he would veto the bill. "I would veto that," he responded.

Republican candidate Healey didn't dance around in her response. "I would veto that proposal," she said, citing the cost of drug addiction and the "tragedy" of kids in the social service system because of drug-addicted parents. "Anything that leads to drug addiction should be absolutely off the table and I would never legalize drugs."

Independent gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos joined the consensus, saying that he supported medical marijuana, but would veto a decrim bill. Only Green-Rainbow candidate Grace Ross gave any positive indication about the decrim bill, but that was vague too. "I'm not big for throwing people in prison for small amounts of marijuana but what the real issue is -- drug addiction, and every other industrialized nation doesn't have as many people in prison and there's a reason because when someone's addicted to something they can get treatment on demand, they can get treatment immediately because universal health care means when you know you need treatment you go in and you get it. So I think if we're going to talk about drugs lets catch the big folks who have the big amounts of money who bring them into communities, not the small fish."

Still, Ross refused to say whether she would sign or veto a decrim bill, saying she would want to see the context of other "much more important" policy changes. She did, however, obliquely attack Healey's comments about drug-addicted parents. "I think we have got to be real here because it's not about what's legal and what's not legal completely because a lot of those kids in DSS their parents are addicted to alcohol, not to illegal substances and I think that the one piece about this kind of question that's legitimate is that addiction is not connected with which substances are legal or not. And so we need to be honest here. I think the question of where marijuana sits in comparison to alcohol is a legitimate question and we need to deal with addiction as addiction and not about criminalizing people who are addicted. We need to deal with it as addiction."

In local ballot questions in the 2000, 2002, and 2004 general elections, more than 410,000 Massachusetts residents have voted for marijuana law reform.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

As so many of kids are buying very hard drugs and think marijuana is a baby drug I think it would be a fantastic idea to just legalize it, sell and tax it like alcohol. Us older responsible pot users are peaceful and want nothing to do with the stuff that is out there today.

Sat, 11/04/2006 - 4:09pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Why bother voting for either party when one is bully like and other wussy.

Sat, 11/04/2006 - 4:25pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

It's perhaps interesting that Deval used the word legalize and not decriminalize. Only one state has legalized weed, Alaska and that was due to the courts, not legislation, so he was being pretty radical in even using the word. Or possibly just careless in his language? But hopefully it was a clue to his longer term plans and a way of testing the water.

Fri, 12/22/2006 - 3:04pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If marijuana where to be legalized, i hope you all understand it would do a few things...
first it would make the government millions of dollars because people would buiy it from local stores instead of dealers because of the prices.
second, it would reduce our taxes because of the millions of less people being arrested and jailed for possession of some trees.
third... it would make all of us happier that we didn't have to hide everything from those damn cops that are out to bust our balls for smoking a naturl plant that causes ZERO deaths per year.

imagine this... if alcohol and weed where just discovered today, what do you think would happen?
personally i believe pot would be recommended to calm down someones life and alcohol would be incrediably illegal because of the permanent damage it causes.

but im gunna keep drinking and smoking no matter what happens.
so peace out.

Sun, 03/16/2008 - 9:59pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

why dont people understand if marijuana was legalized there wouldnt be people abusing other things. many poeple would not be doing other things just to get high like making there own drug(crystal meth). also it is proven marijuana doesn't harm you at all if smoked out of certain things as a vaporizer etc. Marijuana helps tons of medical problems and mental problems. it is a way to relieve stress and just to relax and enjoy your day. If you dpo not smoke weed or even tryed it , you should ry it once evryone should try it once. it is not right to put someone in jail for a few months for smoking a joint. That person couldve beeen a hard working father trying to support his family, unlike rapists and murderers out there. pot smokers dont do anything wrong to people they live their lives in peace. Marijuana doesnt harm your body , unlike alcohol and cigarettes , nobody has ever died of smoking pot , millions people have died from drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, and people have died not even smoking , second hand smoke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and what do u trust beer(man-made) or marijuana (plant).........................................................

Mon, 03/31/2008 - 9:47pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

when will someone stand up and run for office that does support these beneficial things. beneficial things like marijuana. there only reason that it is illegal is because of a racial war that is now long over. i hope. many of the peaceful marijuana users are not criminals. there are criminals who use marijuana too. but every pot smoker isnt a criminal... we need someone to stand up for our rights in this country, as we just keep losing more and more of our basic freedoms to corrupt politicians. why would the government legalize a plant like marijuana when the alcohol and tobacco industry funds billions each year to the drug war.
these things need to be assessed by a clear thinking politician.
are there any in this country.
are there any with the funds to make a serious run at an elected office???
i would love to run... but how do i raise the funds to compete with these billionaires who were born politicians.
its no longer a democracy.
too bad it wont change any time soon. no one in this country will stand up and protest the every day arrests. the every day court trials.. and this needs to be done. in huge quantitiy.
if you truly believe in your cause.

Sat, 05/10/2008 - 4:37pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The first and most important thing to do is educate the leaders of this state of the drugs that they are talking about. It seems like they aren't clear on the drug itself. The other reason why marijuana is addictive is from the illegal and unregulated drug dealers that sell laced drugs. If we legalize or even reform the laws targeting marijuana users then everyone will be much more knowledgeable on what they are selling and buying. Marijuana by itself is not addictive and is we help regulate it than the price of it will go down as well. One of the main reasons kids and teens move onto to harder drugs such as Oxycotton, heroin, crack, and prescription pills is because they attract to the younger kids that can't find marijuana, since the harder drugs can be obtained for cheaper they get hooked and then they ruin their life almost instantly. If we were smarter about this before we could have saved many lives due to progressive addiction. If marijuana becomes legal and obtainable then it will replace cigarettes, preventing lung cancer deaths, as well as preventing addiction to harder drugs. For all the history fans that know the origins of the plant and it's legal standings, they should know that the plant is only illegal due to racial wars against blacks, and the discrimination of the native americans that smoked marijuana as a religious and social practice.

-Legalize Freedom, Legalize Marijuana.

Fri, 06/06/2008 - 9:19am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

should get the e-mail addresses of all the people running for governer and like all the mass shit and send them all the info about how beer and cigs have killed madd people and weed has killed ZERO flat out noone and when asked the question about decrimminalizeing it or leagleizeing it they have to think bout it or they just fucking shred it up fuck them there the ones that should have to pay for us pot smokers to stay in jail...if they wont pass it then let them be responsiable for the debt....i think that all the fucking cops out there should lay off and look for rapists or murders and like meth heads and ppl like that...if i was a cop and pulled someone over for something and i went to the car and smelt weed id be like (ok he or she is on thire way home to chill out and sleep or eat and do nothing wrong...)i wouldnt even mention it to them.......joe fortin... e-mail address [email protected]
hit me up...bout ne thing related to this shit....

Thu, 09/04/2008 - 5:47pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Californians were lied to about the benefits of "medical" marijuana when the voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, otherwise known as Prop 215. Every young adult who wants to get their hands on skunk weed can now legally do so by claiming amorphous problems such as "stress." Learn from California's mistakes!

Sun, 09/07/2008 - 2:52am Permalink

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