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Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Massachusetts Senate candidates on drug policy

By Terry Franklin

BOSTON, MA — This is not normally election season, but the open U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts needs to be filled, so primaries are being held on Tuesday, April 30. One of the candidates, Mr. Winslow, has come out for marijuana legalization.

There are a total of five hopefuls in the two primaries. On the Democratic side, Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch face off. The Republicans have Gabriel Gomez, Michael Sullivan, and Dan Winslow on the ballot.

Markey and Lynch are both sitting Congressmen with voting records. NORML rates Congressional voting on drug policy bills on a scale of -30 to +30.

Mr. Markey, a long time supporter of medical marijuana, has a +30, and Mr. Lynch’s score is -20, a significant difference. Mr. Lynch, in a recent radio interview circulated by Mike Cann, hinted at a willingness to listen to a dialog on the subject. But, at least on the historical record, Markey is the clear leader.

History however is moving so fast these days, that yesterday’s star is rapidly overshadowed.

Mr. Winslow is campaigning for full legalization, for all uses, not merely medical.

Neither of the other Republican candidates mention anything about drug policy on their websites, and a search of news reports has failed to find anything as well.

It is especially odd on Mr. Sullivan’s part. He is the social conservative in this race, who as a former prosecutor, both for the state and federal governments, was no doubt involved in causing much human suffering. This is such an indication of our changing times, since in past years a “get tough on drug users” stance would have been routine and well publicized during a political campaign.

Rules in Massachusetts require Democrats to vote in the Democratic Primary, and Republicans in the Republican Primary, but Independents, the largest voter demographic, have a choice in which one to vote.

It is important to show support for candidates courageous enough to get out in front on the issue. So, even if he ultimately fails to win the Senate in the June election, just getting Dan Winslow onto the ballot as a major party finalist, would be a significant accomplishment. If at all possible, Independents who back reform, should support him with their vote.

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