With marijuana legalization advocates considering a ballot measure campaign in Massachusetts in 2016, Governor Charlie Baker said Thursday that he is “going to always be opposed to legalizing” recreational use of the drug.
Baker, though, did express some interest in tracking experiments with legalization in other parts of the country.
“I think the big issue is the real-life, real-world experience of Colorado,” he said.
Baker, a Republican, also praised Democratic Senate President Stanley Rosenberg’s decision to create a special Senate committee that will examine the issues surrounding legalization of the drug.
The committee, to be chaired by Senator Jason Lewis of Winchester, will also look at the troubled implementation of Massachusetts’ existing medical marijuana law.
Rosenberg has not taken a position on legalization. But his spokesman, Pete Wilson, said the Senate president believes “more information is better,” especially with a possible ballot measure looming.
“Rather than be reactive, we’re trying to be proactive,” said Wilson.
Legalizing a drug that is still illegal under federal law creates a host of issues. For one, banks have been unwilling to touch money linked to marijuana. And in Colorado, the all-cash industry has raised concerns about crime and corruption.
Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado is pushing for a state-chartered marijuana credit union to alleviate some of the worries.
National marijuana advocates view Massachusetts as a prime opportunity for expanding on the collection of four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — where voters have legalized possession of limited amounts of the drug for recreational use.
Proponents have zeroed in on the 2016 ballot because a presidential-year election generally draws a younger, more diverse electorate more inclined to liberalize marijuana laws.
Baker has consistently voiced his opposition to legalization, saying during the gubernatorial campaign that he would “vigorously” oppose it.
He has raised concerns, among other things, about marijuana’s impact on young people.