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Is it time to legalize marijuana in Connecticut?

City-Data.com

Kelly Dwyer, Staff Writer

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The legalization of marijuana has passed in a lot of states, including Colorado and Washington D.C, two of the first states to legalize marijuana. Connecticut needs to follow suit.

Seeing as in other New England states governments have chosen to allow people to purchase and use marijuana, Connecticut is still up in the air of whether or not to legalize it. According to WTNH.com, proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana in Connecticut will need to wait at least another year before seeing it become law.

These supporters of the bill say ending the prohibition on pot would bring tens of millions of dollars into the state’s coffers and create thousands of jobs but acknowledged it did not have enough support this year.

I think it’s a shame because it’s broadly popular in Connecticut,” says Rep. Matt Lesser (D-100th District). “I think we can find a way to do it safely and make sure we’re regulating the use. We’re seeing lots of economic activity going to our neighboring state of Massachusetts.”

That committee’s bill attempts to set up a wide-ranging system for cultivating, selling and possessing the drug, including the creation of a Marijuana Control Council that would regulate marijuana retail stores and marijuana lounges offering “on-site consumption,” according to the legislation.

According to WTNH.com, Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, who allowed a 90-minute House debate on marijuana legalization last year before the bill was pulled, said the issue is “clearly something that deserves to be looked at.”

There is a growing momentum in Connecticut toward legalization, citing the state’s successful medical marijuana program and the legislature’s recent decision to decriminalize adult possession of small amounts of pot.

“Yes, there is potential revenue to consider, but that certainly isn’t why polls show people in Connecticut favoring legalization.” Aresimowicz says.

Although there is still a lot of controversy on whether or not to legalize it.

“This bill to fully legalize marijuana presents a chance for our state to further honor individual privacy rights, prevent discrimination and remedy the disparate burdens that marijuana prohibition has placed on youth, communities of color and poor communities throughout the state,” said Kaley Lentini, the legislative counsel for ACLU-CT.

AAA, the advocacy group for motorists, said it opposes recreational marijuana. It cites a broad range of traffic safety concerns, including increases in drugged driving and marijuana-related fatal crashes, the inability to easily and accurately measure marijuana impairment and the challenges legalization would present to law enforcement, courts and state agencies.

Some argue that it’d be beneficial and there’s no fault in legalizing marijuana because people 21 or older can consume alcohol and so why not smoke marijuana?

Others say it’ll be dangerous because once it’s legalized, young adults will eventually resort to more drugs, according to CNBC.com.

Republican Rep. Holly Cheeseman, of East Lyme, argued that, “simply grasping for additional revenue” to help balance the state’s deficit-plagued budget “does not justify risking the health and well-being of our citizens.”

Even if legislators pass a legalization bill, it remains unclear if Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would sign it into law, according to The Cannabist.  

Proponents of legalization need to become more actively involved in this passing of this important law. Call your representatives and tell them yes to legalization.

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