Ron George became the first gubernatorial candidate to unleash an attack on fellow hopeful Heather R. Mizeur's proposal to legalize and regulate marijuana Thursday -- though his aim seemed off the mark.
George, a Republican state delegate from Montgomery County, released a statement in which he denounced the plan but gave a mistaken description of one of its key provisions. Mizeur's plan to tax legal marijuana sales and use the proceeds for early childhood education was first reported in The Baltimore Sun Tuesday.
“Delegate Mizeur’s Pot for Pre-K proposal is a pipedream," George's statement said. "If we legalize marijuana allowing everyone to grow and produce their own, there will be no market and thus no tax revenue."
The catch is that Mizeur's plan clearly calls for culitvation of legal marijuana only under license in secure facilities. Her plan would not allow unlicensed individuals to grow their own.
George admitted he gave Mizeur's plan, which is described in detail on her web site, a less-than-thorough read.
"I skimmed through it," he said in an interview. "I should have taken a closer look."
Nevertheless, George stood by his other criticism of the plan.
"I worry about the message it sends," he said.
George said he would be open to "proposals that identify non-violent drug offenders and treat them with diversion programs."
"Any moves toward decriminalization need to be done with the proper input of medical and mental health professionals as well as law enforcement and community officials," he said.
George also objected to the plan on fiscal grounds.
"The cost of government pre-K, like every so-called ‘good government' program, will likely exceed initial projections and further bury Maryland in structural debt," George said.
Steven Hershkowitz, a spokesman for Mizeur, said George's statement "is indicative of the type of surface-level rejection of big new ideas that has plagued Annapolis for years."
Hershkowitz said Mizeur's plan would bring in much-needed revenue for her universal pre-K plan and make communities safer.
"We hope the other candidates can at least join Heather in the conversation, if not standing with her in support of these crucial reforms," he said.