Connect with us


Former Biden Cabinet Member Is ‘Concerned’ About Marijuana Legalization



A former U.S. labor secretary who previously served as mayor of Boston as Massachusetts’s marijuana legalization law came into effect, spoke out against what he described as a “slippery slope” of cannabis reform during a C-SPAN interview this week.

Marty Walsh, who also discussed his own substance use disorder and recovery in the interview, said he’s “worried” about legalization efforts and gets “concerned about where we’re headed there.”

Asked how he felt about his state’s move to legalize, the former Biden cabinet member replied: “I didn’t love it. When I was mayor of Boston, I fought it. I get concerned. I think it’s a slippery slope.”

Walsh, who opposed the 2016 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in his state and later voted against a proposed Democratic National Committee party plank to endorse cannabis legalization in 2020, noted that advocates at first seemed to want to decriminalize marijuana, then later pushed legalize it for medical uses.

“And now you have marijuana” legal for adults, he added. “And I’m just worried, you know. You have have some places in the country trying to legalize it and opioids. I get concerned about that. I just get concerned about where we’re headed there.”

Later in the interview, he claimed that “alcohol deaths are higher than, actually, opioid deaths at this point in our country,” and argued that manufacturers of dangerous or impairing substances should be liable for costs of therapy and recovery.

Opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, he said, “enraged me and lots of people with what they got away with.”

“When you think about advertising for alcohol, or marijuana now, when you put an advertisement on a train…you’re targeting young people,” Walsh said. “You already have the 25 year old. You don’t have to put a fancy thing there for an ad for alcohol for a 25 year old. But you’re targeting younger people. We have to be sensitive to all that, and I think that in some of these cases, these companies who are responsible for the devastation they’re causing should be paying some money into fix that devastation.”

Despite opposing legalization of marijuana generally, Walsh nevertheless was supportive of President Joe Biden’s pardons of people with low-level federal marijuana offenses on their records. In 2022, he pledged to work diligently to make sure people who were pardoned saw relief.

“I commend the president for his actions,” he said at the time. “We’re going to work with [those who were pardoned] to make sure that they can get into good employment—that this is not an impediment to their ability to get into the middle class and get a good-paying job.”

Though Walsh continues to oppose legalization nearly eight years after Massachusetts adopted the reform, a recent poll found that 65 percent of Bay State residents think the decision to legalize cannabis was the right move.

Majority Of Americans Say Marijuana Banking Bill Would Promote Public Safety And Help Underserved Communities, Financial Association Poll Finds

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Become a patron at Patreon!

Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Get our daily newsletter.

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox


Get our daily newsletter.