Mayor-Elect Ras Baraka claims to have looked out upon
the beleaguered city and, after careful consideration, devised an
ingenious remedy for its many ills.
“I think drugs should be decriminalized, period,” he told me.
Yes, that would include crack, methamphetamine, and heroin. Perhaps
not a policy position one would expect to hear promulgated in the
context of a ferociously contested election marked by persistent
fear of drug-related violence, but maybe there is something brewing
Bold stuff. But…
Puzzlingly, despite endorsing the concept of drug
decriminalization, the victorious Baraka also hedged on the
question of marijuana legalization per se. When asked for
his view on the senate bill [to legalize possession of pot for
adults], he equivocated, remarking obtusely, “If the people decide
they want to go further, that’s when they go further.” It is a
telling sign of the times in Newark that the winning
candidate…would apparently be unwilling to voice a clear position
on marijuana legalization while he claims to support systemic
change to the entire drug-prohibition regime.
Make of that what you will, and keep your eye on New Jersey for
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