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District voters are coming around on pot. In 2010, only 46 percent of residents favored legalizing small amounts of marijuana. Four years later, that number is up to around 63 percent.
But no one has been more swayed, faster, than attorney general hopeful Karl Racine. In less than a month, Racine has offered two different positions on where he stands on legalizing marijuana.
At the Sept. 8 DC Vote candidates forum, Racine wasn’t sure what he thought of legalization, saying he wanted to hear more from Colorado and Washington, which have legalized the drug.
“Where I am on that, quite honestly, I don’t have enough information based on what the states are doing,” Racine said.
Racine even fretted over the potential for marijuana cultivation aggravating loitering:
They have no earthly idea in serious pockets of the community why the hell you would ever legalize marijuana. And so I think what we need to do is really go about educating our citizens, listening to them about their concerns about whether there’s going to be a farm or a nursery, whatever you call it, right in my neighborhood. There’s going to be a nursery right by that store where 100 men are always standing with beers in their hands.
Apparently, though, three weeks has been enough time to hear from the states and educate District residents. At Monday’s Washington City Paper debate at Rock and Roll Hotel, Racine presented himself as a supporter of legalization who would vote in favor of November’s ballot initiative to legalize the drug.
“It is ‘high time,’ so to speak, that marijuana be legal,” Racine said.
Racine even went further than the ballot initiative, which doesn’t legalize marijuana sales, and proposed using sales taxes from marijuana to fund children’s health care. In an echo of his earlier concerns about beer-swilling men hanging around a nursery, Racine said marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol.
During his debate answer, Racine never mentioned how quickly he had changed his mind on the drug.
What’s behind Racine’s sudden change of heart? Maybe he was inspired by the rock-club setting. Or maybe he saw the NBC4/Washington Post poll, released after he came out as ambivalent on legalization, that shows a majority of likely voters support the ballot initiative.
Alas, we may never know what Racine’s actual position on marijuana is. His campaign didn’t respond to LL’s request to explain which position Racine actually believes.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery