Mayor Marijuana Is A Disgrace To Massachusetts

Printed from:

If Massachusetts someday legalizes prostitution, will the mayor of one of its cities line up to be the first customer at a brothel?

It’s not the same as marijuana, but it’s not completely different, either. Both are destructive things that hurt people who partake of them.

And yet, there Tuesday morning was the mayor of Northampton, David Narkewicz, grinning for the cameras as he purchased what until recently was a Class A controlled substance from one of the state’s first two recreational marijuana shops.

Northampton is about as liberal a community as they come. There aren’t a lot of places in America that voted 82 to 12 for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Yet this action cuts across the left-right divide in this country and strikes at something that shouldn’t be controversial.

Marijuana is a destructive drug that harms memory and other brain functions. That’s why it has been illegal for decades.

The best argument for legalizing marijuana has centered on the excesses of the war against drugs. It goes something like this:  We haven’t been able to stop drug use in this country, but we have driven up the cost and therefore helped make drug dealers rich, and we have hung criminal records on nonviolent offenders whose major vice is getting high without hurting other people.

Such an argument, though attractive to a point, fails when put against the damage that marijuana does to adults and the likelihood that more young people will get access to it now that it’s legal. The inability of police to measure marijuana intoxication also means that significantly more people will be driving under the influence of it and getting away with it. These three terrible outcomes are why recreational marijuana should still be illegal.

Yet even if you accept the legalization argument, you ought to be appalled by the mayor of a city showing up to cheerlead for a local drug dealer by being the first to patronize his business.

For that’s what a pot shop owner is:  a drug dealer. It’s just that now he’s a legal drug dealer.

(As an aside:  This commentary is about recreational use of marijuana, not the small fraction of seriously ill patients who can’t ingest conventional painkillers but for whom marijuana provides relief. For such people in Massachusetts, marijuana is available by prescription, as it should be.)

Even people who think recreational marijuana should be legal should not be in favor of cheerleading for it. If you like marijuana personally, or if you just don’t think government should tell adults whether they can or can’t use it, so be it. But why is promoting it or encouraging it socially acceptable for a politician?

This goes beyond mere public policy:  Is this the kind of society you want? A society that doesn’t just legalize marijuana but also embraces it? Is this what you want for your children?

Tuesday, November 20, 2018, the day people first bought marijuana legally in Massachusetts for no good reason and to no good purpose, isn’t a day to celebrate. But it is a day to remember – something that’s a lot harder to do if you’re stoned.

Someday, when we have lived with the consequences of our new policy, we might consider it anew.