Baker Refines Position on Marijuana Legalization

Gubernatorial candidate Rushern L. Baker III continues to refine his position on whether Maryland should legalize marijuana.

When asked about the issue last week, during a debate sponsored by the Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County, Baker (D) answered, “I don’t at this time,” according to a Washington Post account of the event.

His campaign released a statement the next day, clarifying his position. According to The Post, spokeswoman Madeleine Russak said he “does not oppose the legalization of marijuana, he just wants to make sure that it happens in a thoughtful way that leads toward equity and fairness within all communities.”

Asked about the issue again on WAMU’s “The Kojo Nnamdi Show,” Baker expressed more openness to legalization.

 Rushern L. Baker III

“I think we’re moving toward a point where we’re going to legalize recreational — adult recreational — marijuana,” he said.  “The thing is, when everyone [at the forum] said they’re for it, a lot of those folks don’t run government. You have to prepare.

“One, we have to make sure that we do deal with folks who’ve been caught up in our criminal system and expunge those records. Two, we need to make sure where these dispensaries are going to be when we actually legalize it. And three — and we’ve seen this with medical marijuana in the state — who gets the economic benefit. … All of these questions you have to deal with before the legalization,” Baker continued.

Most of the Democrats running for governor support legalization.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin B. Kamenetz “stopped short of supporting it,” according to The Post. “This is an opportunity where we need to listen and keep an open mind. … I’ve got two teenage sons, and I have to balance those questions with them.”

A spokeswoman for Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) did not respond to a request for his position.

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Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent nearly three decades on local television, including 14 years as executive producer and host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the Washington, D.C., area. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County and as reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. He's a regular contributor to WTOP (103.5 FM) and frequently moderates community and political events.


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