Charlie Baker on Drugs
Where marijuana is legal, young people are more likely to use it: while use among minors has declined nationwide in recent years, states like Colorado have seen an increase. Kids in states that have legalized marijuana have easier access to the drug. And many believe that, since the drug is legal for adults, it must be safe to use.
What the evidence shows us, though, is that marijuana is not safe. Regular use that starts in adolescence has been shown to impair brain development, and even lower IQ. And increasingly, medical science is also showing a frightening correlation between regular marijuana use and severe mental health issues.
Supporters of legalized marijuana have already started laying the foundation for a 2016 ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana in Massachusetts. Similar ballot questions passed in Colorado and Washington in 2012.
Baker, asked about the issue in an interview with The Republican/MassLive.com in Boston on Monday, said, "I'm going to oppose that and I'm going to oppose that vigorously, with a lot of help from a lot of other people in the addiction community."
Baker, a Republican, said many people dealing with addiction believe marijuana use is a "significant first step" toward addiction to other drugs. "There's a ton of research out there at this point that says, especially for young people, it's just plain bad," Baker said.
Baker indicated that he will move forward with trying to get the dispensaries open. "I think waiting is a bad idea. There are clearly people who are looking for Massachusetts to get its act together and move forward on this," Baker said.
Baker also stressed his commitment to addressing opiate addiction--which has become a big issue over the last year after a spate of overdose deaths in Massachusetts. The state legislature passed a comprehensive bill aimed at addressing drug addiction by requiring insurers to cover substance abuse treatment.
A: I'm actually against legalizing pot.
Q: Have you smoked?
A: I have, many many years ago.
Q: Many times?
A: Haha, yes, so many times I can't remember. I've talked to a lot of law enforcement and in the health care community and they all say the same thing which is they don't think it is a good idea. It is a more dangerous drug than people realize, and I take advice from people who know more than me. [So] I'm against this. (WAAF-FM, 2/21/2014)
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2016 NORML scores as follows:
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty.
NORML is a nonprofit, public-interest lobby that for more than 30 years has provided a voice for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition. We represent the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly and believe the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana should no longer be a crime.
NORML supports the removal of all criminal penalties for the private possession & responsible use of marijuana by adults, including the cultivation for personal use, and the casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts. This model is called "decriminalization."
NORML additionally supports the development of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers could purchase it from a safe, legal and regulated source. This model is referred to as "legalization."
NORML believes that marijuana smoking is not for kids and should only be used responsibly by adults. As with alcohol consumption, it must never be an excuse for misconduct or other bad behavior. Driving or operating heavy equipment while impaired from marijuana should be prohibited.
NORML strongly supports the right of patients to use marijuana as a medicine when their physician recommends it to relieve pain and suffering.
Lastly, NORML supports the right of farmers to commercially cultivate hemp for industrial purposes, such as food and fiber production.
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