The mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts is the first such office-holder to support legalizing marijuana in the Bay State.
Holyoke Democratic Mayor Alex Morse supports the Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana act, which will appear on the November ballot in Massachusetts, according to a Monday MassLive article.
“As I considered this question it became increasingly clear that I could no longer tolerate a system that results in disproportionate arrests of African-Americans and other minority groups,” Morse wrote in a statement. He said the war on weed “has failed for decades to limit the availability of marijuana.”
Morse’s pro-pot position puts him at odds with other top-level Massachusetts politicians from both parties. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey and Democratic Boston Mayor Martin Walsh all oppose legalization efforts.
The support for legalization may have something to do with his age.
Morse, who was elected to mayor when he was only 22 years old, is now 27. Nearly 60 percent of people polled support legalization, according to the The Washington Post, in a survey done by the Associated Press National Opinion Research Center for Public Affairs Research in March. That number jumps all the way to 82 percent among 18-29 year olds.
Opponents of legalization in Massachusetts say pot is a “gateway” drug that will lead users to harder drugs, like opiates. However, Morse cites a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2014 which showed opioid addictions rates actually fell in states with legalized marijuana. But, it should be noted that the study Morse refers to was in states with medical marijuana, not necessarily fully legalized pot.
“I believe that increased access to marijuana through a carefully regulated system would help Holyoke and other cities and towns who are struggling with the opioid scourge,” Morse said. “These communities could also benefit from the tax revenues of a regulated system, not to mention the benefits of redirecting law enforcement resources to more serious crimes.”
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