Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cannabis reformers rally at Mass. state house

Mass. pols taking sides as marijuana legalization campaign heats up | NewBostonPost - State House News Service

August 4, 2016 - "[P]roponents gathered outside the State House Wednesday to urge support for marijuana legalization and condemn arguments against it as rooted in fear.... Massachusetts voters will decide at the ballot box in November whether to legalize adult use of marijuana while also setting up taxation and a regulatory structure for marijuana sales....

"Supporters on Wednesday described backing the question as a matter of fairness and racial justice and said the tax revenue could provide an infusion of financial resources for areas like education, infrastructure and addiction treatment.

"'I want to thank my colleagues in government for being here and for their political courage as well, because we see a lot of our colleagues and other elected officials buying into the same old tired arguments around fear,' Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse said. 'And we should not be creating public policy by trying to scare people and making them believe this is negative for themselves, for their families and for their communities.'

"Along with Morse, the elected officials who participated in the press conference were Rep. David Rogers and Boston city councilors Michelle Wu and Tito Jackson. Rogers, a Cambridge Democrat, is one of ten lawmakers, all Democrats, who last week endorsed the legalization proposal, Question 4.

"'Sometimes when we make laws, we don’t always have perfect data or the empirical evidence to make good policy. We make judgement calls,' Rogers said Wednesday. 'In the case of marijuana, though, we have decade after decade after decade after decade of data, and our current approach has failed abysmally, and it’s obvious. If the goal was to stop people from using marijuana, how has that worked out?'...

"Wu, Boston’s city council president, said she has never used marijuana ... the first time she smelled marijuana smoke was while attending college at Harvard University, an experience she said she has since reflected on as an example of 'uneven enforcement' of existing marijuana laws.

"'What kind of a system are we building if Harvard kids can smoke pot and continue to enjoy every privilege, but black and brown residents go to jail, face disproportionate impacts in enforcement?' Wu said."

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