Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, not unlike Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, is apparently neither endorsing nor opposing the medical marijuana initiative that will be on the state ballot this November. This suggests that voters will approve it, as polls suggest, and that politicians don't want to lose popularity. After all, voter support in Massachusetts could potentially match or even exceed the landslide support that decriminalization received in 2008. However, in response to a question from the famous Massachusetts activist known as Mike Cann, Governor Patrick DID confirm (or, at least, “strongly suggested”) that if the initiative DOES pass, he will follow the will of the voters and sign it into law.
This is AMAZING news.
Twenty years after former Massachusetts Governor William Weld endorsed it and after 12 years of overwhelming approval from voters in non-binding ballot questions, Massachusetts could finally have a medical marijuana system in operation by this time in 2013. Of course, that’s assuming that nothing happens between now and year’s end to reverse the movement towards taxation and regulation over arrest and imprisonment. Let’s not forget that marijuana legalization, adult films, and gay rights all had growing mainstream support the late 70s and early 80s before a resurgence of conservatism restored the 'taboo' stigma to all of the above. My prayers are going out that nothing will happen to change the tide. But assuming history doesn’t repeat itself in that (frightening) regard, things are looking pretty damn good for medical marijuana in Massachusetts. This is great news in ANY state, but Massachusetts has an almost unparalleled reputation in America for its contributions to medicine and education. There are decades of documented evidence demonstrating the efficacy of cannabis in treating patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, and MS. New findings show the benefits of cannabis in treating patients with Bipolar Disorder as well as staving off the progression of Alzheimer's and stalling the growth of cancerous tumors. The world of opportunities which would open up to Massachusetts researchers, and the benefits that findings would have on countless lives, is truly thrilling.
It would appear that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is following in the footsteps of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel, and Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in gradually distancing himself from hard-lined Prohibitionist rhetoric on issues that pertain to reforming marijuana laws. That he is the latest politician to choose a neutral or even moderately supportive position when it comes to some form of legalization confirms an exciting and long overdue trend. Perhaps I am being overly optimistic, but the fact that Governor Patrick is famously good friends with President Barrack Obama gives me hope that the White House will join the growing number of political forces in America who are finally listening to the masses instead of arresting them.
Someday, I dream that Boston will be as peaceful and tolerant as Amsterdam...
And I think that we are getting pretty close.