Which Massachusetts Politicians Have Smoked Weed?
In 1990, the Boston Herald published a collection of admissions from Massachusetts politicians who had dabbled in recreational marijuana, titled “Pols Who Have Gone to Pot.” The piece, prompted by a televised confession from then 37-year-old State Attorney General James Shannon less than 24 hours earlier, revealed that many members of the Bay State political scene had tried the Schedule I substance. From the AP’s summary of the “mass mea culpa”:
The admissions all sound a similar theme. They contain references to youthful indiscretion, lessons learned and reason that comes with age. Most of those coming forward point out that they grew up in an era when drug experimentation was as common as doing the twist and wearing Beatle haircuts.
In the 25 years since, public opinion has softened on marijuana use. With a statewide legalization battle looming in 2016, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh vowed to expend whatever portion of his political capital not tied up in the Boston 2024 fray to lead the charge against legalized bud. Among the other players, who has tried marijuana?
Gov. Charlie Baker
Baker admitted in the lightning round of NECN’s gubernatorial debate last year that he had indeed smoked marijuana. His challenger, then Attorney General Martha Coakley, said she had not. This month, he told the AP: “I went to college in the ’70s.” On the campaign trail, Baker said he “oppose[s] full legalization of marijuana because of the adverse impact it could have on children and families.” Once in office, he told the Globe he is “going to always be opposed to legalizing” recreational marijuana.
Attorney General Maura Healey
Healey made an appearance on WGBH-TV’s Greater Boston last August, and told host Emily Rooney she had tried marijuana. Her opponent in the attorney general’s race, Warren Tolman, said he had too. Though she supported the successful push to decriminalize small amounts of weed in 2008, Healey firmly opposes full legalization—a stance cemented by conversations with the attorney generals of Colorado and Washington, where marijuana was legalized by public referendum in 2012.
State Senate President Stan Rosenberg
Similar to Baker’s understated admission, the Amherst Democrat told the AP this month, “I went to college in the ’60s.” In a conversation with hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio, Rosenberg waxed philosophical: “I think people should be allowed to do what they’re going to do unless they are going to hurt somebody else…I come from the Happy Valley. The People’s Republic of Amherst. As Amherst goes, so goes Cambridge.”
State Speaker Robert DeLeo
In the same piece, Rosenberg’s foil told the AP: “When I was in my late 20s, believe it or not. I was late to the game and only a couple of times.” DeLeo told reporters at the Statehouse in March that he found it “very difficult” to back legalization.
Secretary of State John Kerry
Democrat; U.S. Senator, 1985-2013
Kerry, who made clear last week he is not a helicopter, was one of the politicians who admitted to smoking weed in the 1990 Herald piece. He later admitted to “toking a few times after returning from Vietnam, but the smoke bothered him.”