IN STATING their case against legal marijuana, Governor Baker, Attorney General Healey, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh reveal themselves to be incapable of advancing beyond stale scare tactics and hyperbole. It is telling that the first “report” they use to buttress their creaky case is from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a federal and multi-state law enforcement agency whose director opposed legalization.
That group is well known for playing up negative statistics that are cherry picked by politicians but discredited by other sources. For instance, the traffic statistics cited by Baker, Healey, and Walsh are utterly debunked by a February 11 report issued by the Colorado State Police, which shows that drivers testing positive for marijuana dropped by 1.3 percent in 2015 compared to 2014. Traffic fatalities fell in Colorado in 2013, the first year of legal adult marijuana, and marijuana is not cited in state transportation reports as a factor in traffic deaths.
It is curious that Baker, Healey, and Walsh attack marijuana in the political arena, yet don’t mention it when presenting serious drug policy. For instance, Baker didn’t mention marijuana once at the press conference when he rolled out his sweeping opioid bill. Healey makes no mention of marijuana in her official Drug Addiction Battle Plan. And Walsh never mentioned marijuana in his address last November to kick off the Fighting Addiction in the Hub program.
Massachusetts voters will have the opportunity in November to end a policy that has enriched gangs and cartels, guaranteed unchecked exposure to young people, forced law enforcement to divert vast resources from far more serious crimes, and punished adults for choosing a substance less dangerous than alcohol. They deserve better than arguments rooted in decades-old hysteria.