With a major battle in the making over marijuana legalization next year, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, a recovering alcoholic and a passionate advocate for those struggling with drug addiction, is emerging as the most likely face of the opposition.
Walsh said he would “absolutely” be willing to take the lead opposing the anticipated referendum in 17 months, presuming no other high-profile leader steps forward.
“I just think it would be a mistake to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts,” said Walsh. “I’ve seen too many lives ruined by starting to smoke weed and then, eventually, going to other types of drugs.”
Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley all oppose legalization, but none appears keen to lead the charge against the expected 2016 ballot question to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
There is political risk in opposing a referendum many pundits and elected officials expect to pass. Strong majorities of Massachusetts voters approved measures that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2008 and allowed its use for medical purposes in 2012.