Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, above, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh have been called hypocritical by a pro-pot group for supporting more liquor licenses in the state, but not the pot initiative. (Mark M. Murray, Associated Press file)

Massachusetts pro-pot group: Governor, mayor are hypocrites

BOSTON — A group supporting Massachusetts recreational marijuana legalization said Friday that Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh are being hypocritical by supporting more liquor licenses while opposing the pot initiative.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol leveled the charge one day after Baker, Walsh and other top officials announced formation of a committee to fight a likely November ballot question that would allow Massachusetts residents 21 and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana.

The group unveiled a poster outside the Statehouse showing the faces of Baker and Walsh, who is a recovering alcoholic, with a speech bubble that read: “Our Health Policy: Drink More Alcohol.”

Will Luzier, campaign manager for the pro-marijuana group, said pot was less toxic and less addictive than alcohol “and does not contribute to violent or risky behavior.”

Lizzy Guyton, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Baker believes voters should get more than “unfortunate and insensitive attacks from those seeking to open a new billion-dollar commercial marijuana industry in the Commonwealth.”

Luzier said Baker and Walsh have backed legislation that would relax the state’s liquor licensing rules to potentially allow more establishments to open. Walsh, a Democrat, has also proposed a later closing time for Boston bars while Baker, a Republican, supported a 2010 ballot question that repealed the state sales tax on alcohol, which is also subject to excise taxes, he said.

Luzier defended the depiction of Walsh in the poster.

“I know Mayor Walsh personally and his advocacy for the expansion of operating hours for alcohol establishments and the expansion of licenses in the city of Boston, I believe, are in conflict with his position as a recovering alcoholic,” he said.

Walsh called the poster “foolish” and defended his opposition to the marijuana proposal.

“I don’t understand the reasoning behind legalizing marijuana,” the mayor told WFXT-TV. “The effects on the community are going to be far greater than the benefits.”