Democratic governors around the country are reluctant to support the legalization of marijuana, despite enthusiasm for the idea among voters in their party. The New York Times reports the governors are concerned about managing legalization, as well as being perceived as being soft on crime by Republicans.
In California, where voters strongly favor legalization and its Democratic Party adopted a platform urging the state to follow Colorado and Washington state in legalizing recreational marijuana, Governor Jerry Brown has said he wants to see what happens in those areas.
Some Democratic governors are supporting medical marijuana measures. This year, bills have been introduced in 17 states to legalize recreational marijuana. No sitting governor or member of the Senate has offered a full endorsement of those measures. Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont, a Democrat, has said he is open to the idea.
“Quite frankly, I don’t think we are ready, or want to go down that road,” said Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat. His state has legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. “Perhaps the best way to handle this is to watch those experiments that are underway. I don’t think it’s necessary, and I don’t think it’s appropriate,” he told the newspaper.
The Democratic governors of Colorado and Washington opposed legalization, but said they would follow through on voters’ wishes to set up recreational marijuana marketplaces. Washington Governor Jay Inslee said, “As a grandfather, I have the same concerns every grandfather has about misuse of any drug, including alcohol and marijuana. All of us want to see our kids make smart decisions and not allow any drug to become injurious in our life. I recognized the really rational decision that people made that criminalization efforts were not a successful public policy. But frankly, I really don’t want to send a message to our kids that this is a route that is without risk.”