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Baker, Walsh, DeLeo Form Bipartisan Anti-Marijuana Legalization Committee

BOSTON (CBS) -- Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh, Speaker Robert DeLeo, and a number of legislators and healthcare professionals have come together in their opposition to legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts.

The bipartisan committee, A Campaign For A Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, was formed to oppose the ballot question that would legalize pot in the Commonwealth. It warns particularly against the harm it says legalization would cause to young people.

"I've met far too many families in Boston and elsewhere where kids have lost their way in school and been shut out of success in the workplace due to addiction and abuse of marijuana," Mayor Walsh said in a release. "Where marijuana is legal, young people are more likely to use it and a vote against legalizing the commercial marijuana industry is a vote to protect our kids and communities."

Gov. Baker said allowing legal pot in Massachusetts would derail the state's fight against the opioid crisis.

"I'm happy to join Mayor Walsh, Speaker DeLeo, Senator Lewis and others in bipartisan opposition to legalizing a recreational marketplace for a drug that would put our children at risk and threaten to reverse our progress combating the growing opioid epidemic so this industry can rake in millions in profits," said Baker in a release.

State Representative Hannah Kane, a member of the committee, cites statistics showing a 20 percent jump in teen use of marijuana in Colorado after that state legalized pot.

"In Denver specifically, they've seen a 350 percent increase in eighth grade use," said Kane.

She says that the state should not go down the legalization path.

"In Colorado, there are more retail dispensaries of marijuana than there are Starbucks and McDonalds combined," said Kane.

Jim Borghesani, with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, says the new committee will not sway voters.

"They're using the same arguments, the same scare tactics, rooted in 1930s hysteria, and we don't think voters are going to fall for it," said Borghesani.

He favors legalization, and says that marijuana is much less dangerous than the committee claims.

"There is no clinical evidence that links marijuana as a gateway drug to anything," he said. "In fact, the true gateway drug is alcohol."

News of the forming of the committee comes as a new survey by Western New England University Polling shows about 57 percent of Massachusetts voters support marijuana legalization.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Karen Twomey reports

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