Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) said on Friday that he’s in favor of federally legalizing marijuana.
That represents a significant shift for the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, whose record on cannabis reform has been mixed and who previously opposed a statewide decriminalization proposal during his time as governor.
Asked about his prior and current stance on the issue, Patrick told Cheddar’s Justin Chermol that he is supportive of legalization and seemed to attempt to distance himself from his prior stances.
“I am,” he said. “I don’t think I ever expressed opposition, it just wasn’t high on my own list of priorities.”
Q Do you regret opposition to decriminalized marijuana as MA Gov & are you in support of legalization today?
PATRICK: "I am, I don't think I ever expressed opposition, it just wasn't high on my own list of priorities… there are concerns who participates in that industry" https://t.co/zyzsZWuxUB pic.twitter.com/rULaz3VBlY
— Justin Chermol (@justin_chermol) December 13, 2019
Patrick did threaten to veto a cannabis possession decriminalization measure in 2007, and he was publicly listed as a supporter of a campaign opposed a decriminalization ballot initiative that voters went on to approve in 2008.
The former governor, whose administration faced criticism over the implementation of medical cannabis legalization, said in 2014, “I wish frankly we didn’t have medical marijuana.”
But now, just weeks into the former governor’s presidential campaign, he’s aligning himself with the vast majority of Democratic candidates, almost all of whom back legalization—with the notable exceptions of former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Patrick said in the new interview that he’s interested in addressing other, related issues such as restorative justice and cannabis research.
“Beyond the issue of legalization and the education and research that remains to be done about what regular marijuana use, what the impact is, there are all these concerns today about who participates in that industry.” he said, “And then there are consequences for the criminal records of people who have gotten caught up in our laws that made marijuana unlawful, and that’s a whole other set of challenges before us.”
“But they need to be dealt with,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Cheddar/Justin Chermol.