Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh, and Speaker Bob DeLeo announced that the launch of the campaign against the marijuana legalization question that MA voters will likely see on the ballot this November. Their group is called the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, even though prohibition has not proven to advance the goals of either health or safety. Many of the criticisms of marijuana are far more applicable toward alcohol or cigarettes.
The group’s campaign will focus on a disingenuous “Think of the children!” line. The legalization ballot measure will not be making marijuana legal for children to purchase (As for alcohol, the age for purchase will be 21). And marijuana is already illegal for all ages now, but teenagers still find a way to obtain it if they want to. The trio apparently plan to trumpet a federal drug use study that shows that Colorado has the highest youth rate of marijuana use in the nation, but the study showed no statistically significant increase in use post-legalization.
In contrast, our two senators–Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren–showed leadership yesterday by signing onto a letter of global leaders and activists calling for the end of the drug war in advance of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem.
You can read the full letter (and see the various luminaries who signed it) in the attached link, but here’s the key message:
“The drug control regime that emerged during the last century has proven disastrous for global health, security and human rights. Focused overwhelmingly on criminalization and punishment, it created a vast illicit market that has enriched criminal organizations, corrupted governments, triggered explosive violence, distorted economic markets and undermined basic moral values.
“Governments devoted disproportionate resources to repression at the expense of efforts to better the human condition. Tens of millions of people, mostly poor and racial and ethnic minorities, were incarcerated, mostly for low-level and non-violent drug law violations, with little if any benefit to public security. Problematic drug use and HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other infectious diseases spread rapidly as prohibitionist laws, agencies and attitudes impeded harm reduction and other effective health policies.
“Humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s.”
From Joshua Miller’s Globe article:
The campaign will point to Colorado, where regulators have struggled with edible products — the marijuana infused candy, cookies, and colas that often look identical to their non-pot equivalent and can be appealing to kids. And they’ll trumpet a federal drug-use survey that found Colorado has the highest youth rate of marijuana use in the nation.
But the study took place in 2013-2014 while CO legalized in 2014 – is there any way to know how much of the data was gathered before legalization took place? I suspect Baker/Walsh/DeLeo don’t care. The margins here are also very slim – CO already ranked #3 in 2012-2013 & estimated use only rose 1.4% to take #1. It’s only 3.6% ahead of MA, which we’re supposed to believe is a paragon of law & order and setting a good, puritan example, and in fact the 95% confidence intervals for the two states overlap (10.30-15.22% for CO vs. 7.23-10.87% for MA).
I call on all members of the progressive community to stand with Senators Markey and Warren to end the War on Drugs AND to vote YES on the marijuana legalization November ballot question.
Fred Rich LaRiccia
Its the Federal opposition to legalization that is screwing everything up.
I oppose full legalization of pot, but also favor ending a “war” on drugs.
We keep the laws but don’t enforce them? Or enforce them selectively?
Relax or eliminate federal standards to allow states to be labratories of democracy without conflicting with federal law.
Do not incarcerate, but possibly require treatment, for individual use or addiction.
Civil penalties for possession.
Still throw the book at cartels, strictly enforce against trafficking and pushing on kids.
Education campaigns to discourage demand.
Please tell me you are not talking about marijuana. Is there a more benign intoxicant? Please tell me what it is.
Many people who opine over the dangers of marijuana consumption do so over a deliciously crafted white burgundy wine and there’s nothing wrong with that. Even though alcohol kills thousands of Americans yearly, we accept it as an intoxicant that most can use in a safe manner. Compared to any other recreational drug and most prescription medications, marijuana is safe. It’s safer than the hyperventilation tricks young kids use to alter their level of consciousness, it is safer than bungie jumping, base jumping, sledding down a snowy hill or riding your bike through the Sullivan Square rotary. If you don’t want to use marijuana don’t, but stop the myth making and the hand wringing. Ending the marijuana black market that efficiently provides anyone who wants weed with weed and turning it into a regulated and taxed industry is a desirable end and those who oppose it are just plain wrong.
I’m a little squeamish on legalization (call me a reluctant supporter, erring on the side of freedom). But it’s unusual that these guys are actively campaigning against it.
If i were in their shoes, i think I would just see what happens with the vote.
Not sure how many of you are old enough, but when alcohol could be bought by 18 year olds, it was being used down to about 14 year olds.
The exact same situation is going to happen here, except that you have something that is much easier to conceal and consume.
So by all means legalize if you think the country needs more stoned teenagers.
FYI I plan on arguing both sides of this issue, because I can see both sides., which is why I think that it’s hard to criticize anyone for their stance. Walsh would probably argue for a ban on booze, and you can see his point.
Having concerns doesn’t make the policy position right. Lots of people have concerns about alcohol use and those concerns are well-founded. We banned it, and it was a disaster. Similar issues here. Prohibition doesn’t work and decriminalization isn’t enough to break the horrible black market dynamics.
I’m on board with the idea it wouldn’t work, but if “didn’t work before, won’t now” was an excuse, we’d have a lot shorter discussion here on BMG.
People like to get messed up. All cultures, thousands of years. It’s part of our existence on the planet.
Alcohol prohibition was an acutely disastrous example of why prohibition doesn’t work. The last 40 years (including right now) has been a less in-our-face example of how marijuana prohibition doesn’t work.
You’re right, we like drugs, always have.
Which existed (except in NV) for many years.
First we had the NH lottery in 1964 (PR was earlier, but NH first state) and then others followed suit. We let casino gambling into NJ, and it’s been a steady progression since.
Gambling the same or different than drugs/alcohol?
But if you grew up in an urban area, you would know that the state run lottery based their “ping-pong ball” games almost exactly on the Mafia numbers game, an illegal lottery that was run, not necessarily honestly, by organized crime.
Prohibition of this sort of “vice” is always indirect support for organized crime.
and I’m not talking about you specifically, that restricting all vices is a bad idea?
My point here is to bring this out in the open and let’s not pussyfoot around it.
A few years ago some college presidents wanted to reduce the drinking age because the current system sent the wrong message to college students- just ignore laws you don’t like.
If we’d truly enforced drinking laws on campuses we’d need constant police presence.
Almost everyone here is anti-casinos. If we banned casinos everywhere wouldn’t we just be fueling the return of the mob?
We want to legalize drugs. This means kids are going to have easier access to pot. Is that a problem? Can’t young people enjoy a good buzz too? I knew somebody very very similar to me who smoked a ton a weed, drank like a fish and constantly chased girls (when he wasn’t in a total haze) in both high school and college and he turned put all right.
There has been more gambling since the state OK’d the lottery and casinos, the mob could only have dreamed about having little old ladies lined up in front of machines, and scratching tickets, losing their Soc Sec checks.
There will be more pot use if it is legalized. Wickepedia (and others) say maybe 9% of people become psychologically (not physically) dependent on pot (marijuana use disorder).
Is it a gateway drug? I knew a couple dozen tokers back in the day. About half went on to also use hash, THC, coke, acid, speed, and a couple even went on to injectables (where I drew the line), two friends died of overdoses. Common thread they all started with pot.
I prefer the controlled buzz of a six pack of Yuengling nowadays. I won’t deny anyone the right to experiment, I know however it will lead to more 12-13 year olds who steal from their parents stash and younger brains are still developing.
Bottom line I just don’t want to pay for peoples rehab. Legalize anything you want just don’t be surprised it has negative consequences.
No need to assume anything. Its been illegal for 80 years. What that gets is a black market, and drug dealers fighting over turf, and a product that is unregulated, and necessarily of dubious quality, dosage, etc.
All prohibition of something like this EVER, EVER does is to empower organized crime.
shouldn’t suffice as a blanket excuse for anything.
Oh course it won’t work now. People like to get messed up. That’s the reason.
Do you really think that teenagers don’t get access to alcohol since the age of purchase is 21, not 18? I was part of a small minority in my suburban high school that didn’t drink. According to one study of the senior class (taken every year by those who had the health elective offered alternate gym), about 87% had had alcohol before, and 70-some percent on a non-infrequent basis. About 2/3 had tried pot, and for over half, it was more than just a one time thing.
There’s something almost charmingly naive about the thought that kids aren’t already doing this stuff.
You have almost no high schoolers who are 21.
If everyone’s already doing it, then it’s no big deal. Legalize it and let the high school kids toke away.
…you almost certainly had more access to alcohol than you would have if it were illegal, possibly as close as the refrigerator or basement of your house. Ditto with cigarettes, sold legitimately to people who then provide them to younger friends or by merchants less than scrupulous about ID requirements. I’d just prefer that another substance not become THAT accessible.
As for, “oh, no, they are putting it in brownies and candy, and making it palatable for children!” I give you:
The problem is that it is harder for someone under 21 to purchase beer than it is for them to purchase marijuana. Or at least it was in 1988 (or so I was told 🙂 ) and according to the teenagers that appear in my house now. I’m well aware that both sides have their surveys on this. Based on personal experience, I find the so-easy-to-buy-beer-but-hard-to-buy-pot ones dubious.
So the Drug War/prohibition position, to me, boils down to
it was creamy concoctions that were marked as some sort of alcoholic milk shakes.
Disagree? Try and influence the vote.
Lose the vote? Shrug and do the will of the people. Somethings will be better, others worse, but if that’s what the people want, so be it.
If legalization does pass, they should avoid complicating things. If I can brew my own beer, I should be able to grow my own weed.
There are countless package stores, convenience stores, etc. in my community where I can tell you exactly where you can get legal cigarettes and alcohol. I wouldn’t have the first clue where to find pot and I like that way.
Advocating for a 5-member commission with 6-figure salaries, heavily staffed and poshly headquartered, whose job is the de facto promotion of the industry.
Peter Porcupine says
…we go further and further to eliminate cigarette and tobacco consumption, but seek to facilitate a different kind of smoking? Especially since a contact high is far more likely than damage from second hand smoke?
1. Nicotine is among the most lethal toxins in nature. THC is not.
2. Nicotine delivered by cigarettes (it is its own pathway) nearly always creates a potent addiction that many smokers find impossible to end. There is no such mechanism for marijuana.
3. A heavy cigarette smoker consumes 2-3 packs per day — 40-60 cigarettes. A heavy marijuana smoker consumes a tiny fraction of that.
If marijuana were NEARLY as dangerous as cigarettes, there would have been a wave of marijuana-related cancers and deaths fifteen or so years after the 1960s. There was none.
The concerns you raise have more to do with “Reefer Madness” hysteria than with reality.
cigarette and tobacco usage, being more widespread than marijuana, exposes people to secondhand smoke to greater degree than mj smoking would. At least at this degree of usage.
…that the reason for that disparity is precisely because the former is legal and the latter is not, a key reason I would like to keep pot technically illegal.
People of legal age drink more soda than beer, wine, or hard liquor because one makes you drunk and the other does not.
People buy pot now. They smoke more cigarettes (as well as pipes and cigars) than pot because smoking pot makes you high. It is simply not possible to smoke as much pot as the average cigarette smoker.
I strongly encourage you revisit the things that seem “obvious” to you, at least about marijuana.
…that usage, especially public usage, will not increase if we start selling pot right next to cigarettes at convenience stores? I’m sorry, but that defies logic, especially with regard to underage use.
Indeed, I seriously don’t think that people will smoke nearly as many reefers as cigarettes. Not nearly.
I don’t doubt that use will increase. The comment you responded to was a comment about the effects of exposure to secondhand smoke. I think the effects of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke will not be measurable.
I think that increased usage of marijuana among underage adolescents is likely to be associated with a decreased usage of alcohol (that was certainly the case with my peers during high school). I think that underage use of marijuana is FAR safer than underage use of either alcohol or tobacco.
I seriously think that you are reacting from hysteria and fear rather than from anything approximating reality.
It’s better to have stoned teenagers than drunk teenagers.
We’ll have to see if the proponents use that one.
Sounds exactly how Dems were talking about gay marriage 15 years ago. So we got “civil unions,” like we got medical marijuana. More & more Dems are waking up that we should just ask for what we really want, especially because voters agree with us!
I for one don’t “really want” legalization and even medical marijuana for me is more of an oh alright, if you insist.
I think the standard for imposing draconian restrictions people (and our marijuana laws ARE draconian) should be higher than “what does Christopher want”.
I am definitely heterosexual. I also realized that I never made a conscious choice to be heterosexual, I just am. I realized that there are people all around me who similarly are homosexual or bisexual. They never made a conscious choice, they just are. While I never “really want[ed]” legalized same-sex marriage, because of my gender preference, it was apparent to me early on that changing our laws about marriage was essential.
Changing our laws about marijuana is essential, whether or not any of us “really wants” to use the substance.
…we were entitled to our opinions. I’m just one voter and if I don’t get my way, well, that’s democracy for you. I did not interpret TGM’s comment that he(?) really wanted to personally smoke pot, but really wanted it to be legal to do so. OTOH, like you I am straight, but I do in fact “really want” marriage equality because to deny it would fail both the Golden Rule and the Equal Protection Clause. You’ve completely missed a lot of what I have said if you think I advocate draconian enforcement against pot.
Marijuana has already been decriminalized here.
I think that the freedom to pursue happiness is a basic human right. I think that in the absence of evidence of harm to society, men and women should be free to do what they choose — including smoking marijuana.
I think that if we aren’t going to enforce laws against it, then we ought to legalize it.
…and I do see it as a PUBLIC health concern. If I thought for a second it was ONLY a personal issue I would drop my opposition.
If we get to pursue happiness ( getting high), then we need access to that happiness, meaning someone has to sell it to us. I don’t get the argument that we can possess it, but if someone sells it, they’re committing a crime.
You can’t sell it, but if we didn’t catch it at that stage then we shrug at possessing it. Kind of like certain sensitive information in my understanding. It’s illegal to leak to the press, but if the press does get it the first amendment says they can publish.
I can’t pursue happiness unless I have a legal way to obtain it.
You can find other ways to pursue happiness. I don’t see doing it this way as a positive good, but I am willing to use a bit of common sense when it comes to enforcement.
I get that you don’t want to go any further with the “public health concern” argument. Perhaps some of your reluctance is because that argument has already been demolished here so many times before.
1. The history — marijuana, then called hemp, was originally made illegal in response to a variety of racist and xenophobic fears promoted by media of the time. This has been widely reported by sources such as PBS. The leading advocate of the first national prohibition was Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the then-new Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who explicitly rejected the scientific opinion of the time (emphasis mine):
2. The prohibition was written to outlaw even scientific research into the effects of marijuana. This ensured that no scientific data to challenge the prohibition could ever be presented.
3. During the sixties, marijuana (and hashish) use among adolescents and young people was nearly universal. Returning soldiers brought stashes of weed and hash from Vietnam, other people (particularly in California) discovered how easy it was to grow, and an enormous grass-roots (pun intended) market of buyer and sellers emerged. There was no corresponding epidemic of adverse consequences.
4. When Ronald Reagan was elected, the “war on drugs” was a way that he exploited hysteria promoted by Nixon-era Republicans against “liberals” (and “hippies”, and “anti-American” war protesters, and minorities). The Reagan administration shameless exploited high-profile busts of “marijuana smugglers”, importing kilos of weed in fishing boats. This was trivially easy because US authorities were arresting amateurs who lacked the expertise or technology to package the weed in ways to avoid detection. A kilo of uncompressed raw marijuana is an ENORMOUS package — it makes a great newspaper photo, and had (at the time) tiny value in comparison to the street drugs offered by organized crime at the time.
There never were any public health concerns associated with marijuana. There aren’t any documented public health consequences now (not the least because it has been impossible to conduct the kind of research needed to reveal them).
Your own arguments here have NOT been about public health. You have instead argued “stare decisis” — that we should keep it illegal because it is illegal now, even though there is NO evidence of public health impact.
Had we followed your recipe in other areas of individual liberty, people would still be going to jail for sodomy because they enjoy oral or anal sex.
There has never been evidence of adverse public health consequences of marijuana use sufficient to outweigh the desire of tens of millions of Americans to enjoy its effects. The measured adverse public health consequences of soda, potato chips, french fries, and cell phones (I’m referring to distracted driving) dwarf the measured consequences of marijuana use.
There is no valid public health concern that justifies keeping marijuana illegal.
Another substance to be exposed to fumes.
Another substance intoxicating enough that one should not drive, and possibly do other things, under its influence.
Regarding your enumerated items above I’m happy to reverse #2, but #3 is exactly what I don’t want. Let the hippies be buried with the 60s, and BTW the stereotypical image of a hippie that comes to my mind is very much WHITE in terms of race.
You cited a concern about “public health”.
Whether or not you like item 3, there was no epidemic. It’s the closest thing we have to an experiment about adverse public health consequences of large numbers of people smoking weed — and the outcome was that were essentially none.
Your biases and prejudices about “hippies” are irrelevant to a public health argument. I don’t like rap music and I don’t like television sets (especially televised sports) visible from where I’m eating. That is not grounds for making either illegal.
I remind you that you said the following:
I’m calling your bluff. So far, the ONLY issue you’ve raised is your own personal aversion to “hippies”. It sounds to me as though it is time for you drop your opposition.
to previous comments. I have absolutely mentioned public concerns. Did you read the first two lines of the comment you just replied to?
You’ve claimed public health concerns, yet you have not presented any.
Being able to smell marijuana smoke is not the same as demonstrating a public health hazard from second-hand marijuana smoke. ALL legalization proposals include provisions to regulate its use as we already do for alcohol.
Neither of those two concerns justifies the draconian laws against marijuana.
I can smell perfume when I walk through a department store. It is preposterous to make perfume illegal because of that. I can smell rotting seafood behind any seafood restaurant — we do not make seafood illegal. Your argument about marijuana “fumes” — absent actual clinical evidence of harm — is similarly preposterous.
There are a lot of smells I don’t like. Can you PLEASE stop using the word draconian when talking to me about this, because I do not support draconianism on this? Are you seriously suggesting that if you sat next to me smoking a joint that I would not inhale the fumes and be exposed to its harmful effects? I’m pretty sure I’ve offered links previously, but given how slow on the uptake the internet is on my computer I don’t have the patience to try again. File under asked and answered.
What you have not shown, I assert because it doesn’t exist, is any evidence that second-hand marijuana smoke would have a measurable public health effect. Until you can show measurable harm, it’s just a smell you don’t like.
I’m quite certain that even after legalization, the same restrictions that apply to cigarette smokers will apply to marijuana smokers. Since a marijuana smoker consumes a fraction of the number of smokes (per day) consumed by a typical cigarette smoker, the likelihood of adverse public health consequences resulting from second-hand marijuana smoke is tiny.
Regarding “draconian”, I’m not sure how else to describe laws that cause someone possessing a ounce who happens to live inside a school zone to go to jail for YEARS (because of school-zone thresholds for “possession with intent to distribute) — in a state where we claim to have decriminalized the substance.
The plain fact remains that the existing laws ARE draconian, and you continue to defend those laws.
…that the laws regarding possession of pot within a school zone should be relaxed, and if we have decriminalized possession I assumed that applied everywhere.
I’ve made up my mind regarding my personal preferences for where I want these laws to go, but I’m just one voter, so I would suggest working on someone more persuadable.
The issues are not even remotely comparable.
Legalization WILL have harmful effects. It will probably have fewer harmful effects than the current system does, but it’s not something we can take lightly.
Opposition to gay marriage was rooted in fear of consequences of supporting it. Opposition to legalization is not my position (see above), but there’s a thoroughly rational rationale for opposing legalization.
The public health consequences of soda are demonstrated and far outweigh the likely consequences of legalized pot.
The argument that I heard most often from opponents of gay marriage was that “gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage”. That most certainly was an expression of fear of the consequences.
It seems to me that onus is on those who want to make it illegal to present their case for the harm they allege it does.
There may be reasons to regulate food and drink. Personally I’d like to ban high fructose corn syrup. Soda, however, neither forces its effects on people nearby, nor is it intoxicating such that it might result in dangerous motor vehicle operation. I think it’s best if we kept food and drug conversations separate.
That’s what I was referring to. People who would have been natural supporters of gay marriage, like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, were afraid of the political consequences of supporting it fully. So we got “civil unions.”
Pot is harmful. You are right that soda is more harmful, but soda is legal, so the onus is on advocates to show the effects of changing the law.
Or, to repeat my advice to Baker, Walsh, and DeLeo … forget the onus. Let the vote happen.
Others really believed it was wrong. I would certainly like to think that the two you mentioned are the former. I definitely have reason to believe Bill Clinton was the former. I actually wrote to him asking that he veto DOMA and the letter I received from the White House as I recall said nothing about the merits, but came down to signing it to remove it as an issue.
I thought you meant the fear of public health consequences.
I appreciate your clarification.
It seems to me that one reading of Lawrence v Texas is that, in fact, the burden of proof remains on the government when a law restricts behavior without demonstrating a compelling public interest. By the argument you’re making, sodomy laws would still be enforceable.
The Supreme Court instead ruled that the government must show a compelling interest — beyond religious belief — for restricting private consensual sex between adults. I’m not arguing that the laws against marijuana are unconstitutional, I’m instead making the lesser claim that the onus should be on government to show that marijuana has adverse public health consequences, rather than on proponents to show that it does not.
Proving that there no adverse public health consequences is not something we demand of virtually ANY consumable. We do not demand it of any food, food supplement, dietary supplement, or similar substance. We did not demand it of cigarettes or of alcohol, even though the evidence against each is compelling — each is now legal.
I think the consensual standard doesn’t apply when the behavior is already illegal. If you and I rob a bank together … OK imperfect analogy. But the only other one I could think of is prostitution, and I didn’t want to go there.
Oh wait! Gambling. You and I wager on the marathon. Technically, that is illegal. “Harm” doesn’t really come into play (unless we expand greatly, I suppose). The issue is the existing ban. In other words we can’t consent to illegal behavior.
I think …
That was the issue in Lawrence v. Texas.
The behavior was illegal under existing sodomy laws of Texas. The Court ruled that Texas had to show a “compelling interest” in order to preserve the sodomy laws, and Texas failed to do so.
I’m not a lawyer either. I just think the current situation is absurd.
You can possess it (in small quantities) but you can’t buy, sell, or grow it.
…there were constitutional issues like privacy and equal protection that do not apply to this issue.
Yes, Prohibition 2.0 is as much of a failure as Prohibition 1.0, the original Volstead Act version. It took 13 years, from 1920 to 1933, for us to learn you can’t keep people from their booze. But you can regulate and tax alcohol. You can educate young people on its dangers, and you can develop programs to help alcoholics. The problem with drugs today is no different.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then when it comes to drug policy in the U.S., we are truly insane.
But we can recover, first by admitting Prohibition 2.0 is a failure, then by legalizing, regulating, and taxing all drugs. This should put a dent in the illegal drug trade, keep little old ladies from getting hit on the head while also reducing convenience liquor store robberies, and we might even save some money on law enforcement.
Lower the drinking and pot age so that kids learn to be responsible drinker and smokers while still under the control of their parents.
While we’re at it, lower the age of sexual consent so that birth control is a more discussed family issue.
Why haven’t we admitted both those policies have failed?