Marijuana campaign aims to tie Baker, Walsh to alcohol industry
BOSTON >> A day after some of the state's top politicians formalized their opposition to a bid to legalize adult marijuana use, legalization supporters fired back with a campaign labeling Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh as hypocrites who want to see people "drink more alcohol."
In a press conference outside the State House Friday, members of the Campaign to Regulate Alcohol like Marijuana — backers of a ballot question that would legalize the use of marijuana by adults 21 and older and make it available through a regulated retail industry — presented a poster of Walsh and Baker sharing a cartoon speech bubble with the words "Our health policy: Drink more alcohol!"
"Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh want to make alcohol easier to get while driving the 842,000 people over 18 in Massachusetts who used marijuana last year to drug pushers who sell dangerous drugs like heroin and don't ask for IDs," Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol manager Will Luzier said.
Baker and Walsh, with House Speaker Robert DeLeo, on Thursday announced the formation of the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, whose arguments against the ballot question include "concerns about the health risks to young people" and a claim that the "proposed law is written by and for the corporate interests that have profited from legalization across the country."
"When it comes to an issue like the health and safety of kids, voters deserve better than absurd, disingenuous attacks from the marijuana industry," Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts spokesman Corey Welford said in a statement Friday. "The marijuana industry is the only one that stands to make billions in profits from this new law, and they will do and say anything to distract from the real issue. The fact is that legalizing marijuana will increase addiction and harm our kids. That is why this proposed law is good for corporate marijuana, and bad for Massachusetts families."
Calling alcohol "deadly" and marijuana "relatively benign," Luzier cited Baker's municipal finance reform legislation that would reduce state control over liquor license approval and his support in 2010 for repealing a sales tax on alcohol.
A new page on the legalization campaign's website lays out other actions by Baker and Walsh that the campaign says promote the use of alcohol and demonstrate "blatant hypocrisy" by marijuana opponents, including efforts by Walsh to extend the operating hours for Boston bars.
Asked by a reporter if he believed it was appropriate to post and circulate images made to show Walsh, a recovering alcoholic, saying "Drink more alcohol," Luzier said, "I know Mayor Walsh personally and his advocacy for the expansion of operating hours of alcohol establishments and the expansion of licenses in the city of Boston, I believe are in conflict with his position as a recovering alcoholic."
Shortly after the press conference, Tim Buckley, Baker's director of communications, posted to Twitter referring to the legalization campaign's image of Baker and Walsh as "tasteless photo shop jobs — pretty much what you'd expect from a few guys looking to get rich selling drug laced lollipops."
Luzier said marijuana legalization supporters were preparing a "rigorous campaign and will get the message out that alcohol is a much more dangerous substance than marijuana and we should end marijuana prohibition."
The campaign against the ballot question argues that marijuana is more potent now and says the question's passage would lead to increased use among young people, with edible products marketed as "gummy bears" and "candy bars" that would appeal to children.
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