Next year Boston will be deciding on the fate of marijuana legalization – the expected 2016 ballot question would be to legalize or not to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Apparently, Mayor Martin Walsh, a recovering alcoholic and an advocate for people struggling with drug addiction, is emerging as the leader of the opposition. Is this the story of real life Peter Russo from the House of Cards? Obviously, major believes that marijuana is a gateway drug. And that’s the problem with opponents like him – they believe and they turn the blind eye when confronted with scientific evidence.
Repeat after me: marijuana is not a gateway drug
The majority of voters from Massachusetts have approved the measure that decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot in 2008 and the same majority voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in 2012. So how come the mayor is taking such a huge political risk opposing the referendum that will most certainly pass? Apparently, this guy has some strong feelings about the issue. “I just think it would be a mistake to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts,” said Walsh. “I’ve seen too many lives ruined by starting to smoke weed and then, eventually, going to other types of drugs.” According to his buddies, for him this is a matter of conscience – the mayor likes to spend his spare time helping addicts find beds in rehab facilities. Most likely, he hopes his political capital, combined with media coverage will reach a large audience and let them know that ganja is bad for them.
“Look but don’t touch. Touch, but don’t taste. Taste, don’t swallow.”
It always amazes us how people still believe that forbidding something will actually make people stay away from it – which reminds us of the famous quote (written in the subtitle of this paragraph) from the movie Devil’s Advocate. Why are we so slow in changing things that don’t work? It’s like the guys like Mayor Walsh secretly think to themselves “maybe this time it will work.” According to a recent poll, Walsh is viewed favorably by two-thirds of Boston voters, which is precisely why he is so confident that this stunt will not harm his political career. While the ballot question is on the roll, the most strategically important (and douchebaggy) thing to do is to introduce emotion into debate, and Walsh, as a respectable voice of the individuals and families struggling with substance abuse will perform that perfectly. When asked whether he is concerned about racial disparities in marijuana arrests, Walsh was sharp in his response: “So because of racial disparities we legalize a drug that potentially could kill people, lead to death? I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to do it.” Is the mayor in denial about the reality of marijuana use? Despite all the restrictions and efforts of law enforcement, marijuana was always widely available and equally widely used. May we finally kick out the argument about the gateway drug from the debates around legalization? Pretty please?