You don't have to be a stoner to recognize the destructive effects that the criminalization of marijuana has had on our culture and civil liberties. Fortunately, full legalization of the mild intoxicant is within reach this year as California votes on an initiative entitled Proposition 19 that will make it as legal to buy pot as it is to buy beer.
Actually such an act would amount to the legalization of marijuana nationwide. Since of course there would be no guards at the California border to prevent legal marijuana products from leaving the state, the entire country would soon be flooded with marijuana legally purchased in California, making the restrictions still in place in other states impossible to enforce.
Meanwhile, longtime Valley cannabis activist Terry Franklin (below) has compiled a list of pro-legalization candidates in Massachusetts:
California, with its Proposition 19, is the place to vote this year; but for us voters in the Northeast, I've put together this list of candidates in our own area who support marijuana legalization.
Not everyone is a single issue voter, but please keep this issue in mind when making your decision. Most of these people are "3rd party" candidates -- Libertarians have been on board for decades -- and it's heartening to see a number of Greens joining them this year. Even without winning, minor party candidates can have an effect: One or both of the major parties see themselves losing voters, and will try to shift their platform in an effort to get them back in the next election.
I tried to make the list as comprehensive as possible. However, there is no doubt I have missed someone -- especially in the more local races. Carefully evaluate the positions of all the candidates on your ballot before going to the polls on Election Day. Even if someone has not come out for legalization, they may have a position on a lesser issue such as medical, decrim, or hemp which is better than their opponent.
Governor........(G) Jill Stein
Congress........(I) Mike Engel........1st C.D.
Congress........(D) Barney Frank......4th C.D.
Congress........(R) Sean Bielat.......also in the 4th
State Sen.......(D) Cythia Creem......Newton area
State Sen.......(R) Craig Spadafora...Melrose area
State Rep.......(I) Daniel Melick.....Amherst & Granby
State Rep.......(I) Jonathan Loya.....Hopkinton area
State Rep.......(I) Ron Madnick.......Worcester area
State Rep.......(G) Scott Laugenaur...Pittsfield area
State Rep.......(I) Jim Pillsbury.....Framingham area
State Rep.......(I) Bob Underwood.....Springfield area
In addition, 73 towns in MA have non-binding, but important, advisory questions, "PPQs," on the ballot, concerning either legalization or medical marijuana.
In other political news, the Richard Neal re-election congressional race against Tom Wesley (above left with Holyoke's Chief Scott) is quickly evolving into the premiere political battle of the southern Valley. Take a look at Wesley's latest and most devastating political ad yet:
In another important development in that race, Wesley has announced the co-chairs of the Valley section of his campaign with the surprise appointment of former Springfield City Councilor Barbara Garde (below right).
From a Wesley campaign press release:
Former Springfield city councilor Barbara Garde and Virginia Neill, a widely respected small business owner and community leader, will serve as co-chairs of the campaign. Both leaders will focus much of their efforts towards supporting the Wesley organization’s rapid growth in the western portion of the 2nd District.
“As our national and local economy continues to struggle, it’s incumbent upon us all to re-think and challenge the status quo, operate-as-usual, mindset. I believe strongly that Tom Wesley provides a clear and very reasonable alternative to Congressman Neal’s 22 year record. It’s why I have not only endorsed Tom’s candidacy, but have committed myself to see to it that I do everything possible to see him elected this November,” Barbara Garde, a former Democrat, said.
Garde once served as a co-chair for Domenic Sarno’s mayoral campaign in Springfield and was positioned to serve in the same position for Richard Neal’s congressional bid in 1988. Since Neal faced no challenge that year, the co-chair position was not necessary. She currently serves as the Vice President of Marketing for Springfield-based AmBCare Ambulance Service.
I last saw Garde in person back in June of 2007. I took her photo and filed this report:
Tuesday I was in Springfield all day, starting in the morning with the Springfield Control Board meeting at City Hall and at night at the official kickoff rally for the Karen Powell for City Council campaign. In between I sort of schlepped around my old stomping grounds of ol' Pine Point, going to lunch at Tony's Pizza on Boston Road. There I ran into former City Councilor Barbara Garde. She told me that she's been drinking heavily since she left office.
Just kidding. Actually she said she's enjoying life after politics very much.
Is it any wonder why local politicians dislike me so much? Yet way back in 1993 I wrote these words of praise about Garde in a "report card" I made up for The Baystate Objectivist, complete with nicknames, of the Springfield City Council, or "clowncil" as we called it in those days.
Guardian Garde - With only one year on the Council behind her, it isn't clear exactly where on the political spectrum to place Barbara Garde. Yet if there is one characteristic passing consistently through the ideological mish-mash it is Garde's fierce independence. A potential swing vote on many issues, Garde is courted by all political factions with equal fervor. But it's probably a waste of time trying to call this Councilor's tune. When it comes to matters of principle, this lady don't dance.
And she still doesn't, with Garde once again showing great courage in leading other disillusioned Democrats to join her in backing Wesley.
This week at UMass a table was set up in the Campus Center to support Charlie Baker for Governor.
In Northampton this morning supporters of incumbent Deval Patrick were campaigning.
In what appears to be shaping up as a strong Republican year, not all Democrats are proudly running on the party label. However Amherst's State Rep. Ellen Story is an exception.
A cynical bumpersticker on a car parked on an Amherst street.
Portrait of a hipster at the Mystery Train in Amherst by Alice Ware.
Here's a Jeff Ziff video from the recent Skid Row concert in downtown Springfield.