Marty Walsh’s Fixation on Opposing Marijuana Legalization: Wrong-Headed on Every Level – Part Two of Two

In Part One of this post, I discussed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s fool-headed decision – both politically and scientifically – to be willing to “lead the charge” against an anticipated 2016 Massachusetts ballot initiative to legalize marijuana possession and use.

As a Wrentham Massachusetts drug charges attorney, I can assure you that alcohol – which is fully legal, regulated, and taxed – is at least ten times more addictive and dangerous than cannabis. Yet alcohol remains legal, while cannabis remains illegal. This insane legal and social policy has persisted for decades, and must end soon. Because cannabis remains illegal (especially on the federal level,) cartels and illegal dealers control its distribution. Legalization it will smash cartel control, will allow for orderly regulation of it. As respected national organizations such as the Marijuana Policy Project have made clear, current sales in the illegal market aren’t taxed or regulated. Black market dealers don’t care who they sell to or how old the buyer is. Legalization and regulation would put gangs and cartels out of business by bringing everything out of the shadows. Importantly, legalization will allow Massachusetts to tax marijuana sales – producing hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes that can be directed to much more socially useful objectives, such as housing the homeless, for one.

Because possession of more than an ounce of pot remains a criminal offense under Massachusetts drug laws, that means that HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of taxpayer dollars are spent every year arresting and prosecuting completely non-violent citizens who want to do nothing more than relax at home with a relatively harmless substance FAR LESS dangerous than alcohol. Studies have shown that there are at least a half-million regular marijuana users in Massachusetts. These everyday people should be treated a criminals? People who should be arrested and prosecuted by the courts, costing us all hundreds of millions of dollars each year? As a Massachusetts drug arrest attorney, I find this incomprehensible. In the event that anyone might think that pro-legalization people are the “Hey, man” Cheech and Chong types, they’d be wrong: They are more like myself, a respected Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, as well as hundreds of current and former police officers and law enforcement officials. Yes, you read that correctly. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is a nationwide organization of police and law enforcement professionals that know only too well how insane marijuana prohibition is. Check out their website – and their members – by clicking on that link. Are you listening to this, Beacon Hill?

What stuns me just as much is marijuana opponents’ continued – and entirely unsupportable – use of the term “gateway drug”: The laughable argument that smoking pot will lead to “harder drugs.” This claim really is up there (more accurately, down there) with the now decades-old, riotously laughable 1950’s film, “Reefer Madness.” Truly, the best way to describe this argument is, indeed, laughable. As columnist Yvonne Abraham of The Boston Globe has opined in a June 4 2015 piece, “Here’s the problem with the mayor’s position: The marijuana-as-gateway thing is based on shaky science. There is a correlation between using marijuana and using harder drugs (a person interested in getting high might be more likely to try other mood-altering substances), and that is worth our attention. But that’s not the same as saying marijuana causes somebody to use harder drugs.

“Just because marijuana smokers might be more likely to later use, say, cocaine, does not imply that using marijuana causes one to use cocaine,” says FactCheck.org, which took New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to task for making the gateway argument in April. Some research – inconclusive so far – has found paths whereby marijuana primes the brain for other drug abuse, but similar results were found for tobacco and alcohol. So if marijuana is a gateway drug (which has NEVER been scietifically proven – then it follows necessarily that tobacco and alcohol are, too. It makes absolutely zero sense whatsoever to allow tobacco and alcohol to remain legal, and keep marijuana – less harmful than either cigarettes or alcohol – illegal.

Yet, the “gateway” argument goes on and on. As a Wrentham, Mass., charges lawyer, I have a term for these people: They’re members of the Flat Earth Society: People who just cannot submit to reason, to science, and to logic.

Wake up, Mayor Walsh. The earth isn’t anywhere near flat, and pot isn’t anywhere near as dangerous as alcohol. You’re blind to this. Wake up and smell the coffee.