A recent debate between two candidates for a state Senate seat in Massachusetts spotlights how the legalization of marijuana is becoming an issue that doesn’t just polarize voters. Candidates, too, are not only deeply divided on the issue, but are also undertaking party role reversals when doing so.
The debate, as reported by Wicked Local (photo courtesy of them), featured two candidates: Republican Craig Spadafora and Democrat Katherine Clark. It took place on Wakefield Cable Access TV, the two candidates vying for the 3rd Middlesex and Essex senate seat whose current occupant is leaving to try for a spot as Lieutenant Governor.
Traditionally, most people in the marijuana legalization movement think of only two political stripes being involved in the fight to make cannabis just another plant: Democrats and personal liberty-oriented libertarians.
The debate between Spadafora and Clark, however, flips that on its head and shows that there is far more at stake here than just political party affiliations. In the Melrose debate, Spadafora, the Republican, came out strongly for marijuana’s legalization while his Democratic opponent, Clark, vehemently opposed it.
Spadafora’s response was atypical of many Republican hardliners, who are seeing much of their political base begin to wither away thanks to issues like marijuana. Spadafora’s comments about legalization were centered on his experience as a city councilor in Malden, Mass.:
“We’re creating a lot of violence on something that is probably better for you than cigarettes,” Spadafora said. “We tax alcohol. We tax it extremely high in this state. I think it’s something we can regulate … but more importantly, we can free up some space in our jails for people who really deserve to be in a cell.”
On the flip side, his opponent is an attorney and state representative. She showed her political savvy with her response, but nonetheless made it clear that her stance comes from having been a prosecutor:
“As a former prosecutor, I probably tend to be more conservative on these issues,” Clark said, “but I do see that we can work around sentencing, reducing sentencing, building up alternative programs. But I am not in support of legalizing marijuana at this time.”
The two opposing candidates are showing at, at the local level at least, the question of marijuana and how we’re handling it as a nation is becoming an important one. Important enough that traditional party affiliations and thoughts on the issue are no longer as relevant.
[source Wicked Local]