Connecticut considers recreational cannabis. Lawmakers and marijuana supporters spoke out at a recent public hearing to support for the recreational cannabis bills at the state level.
The bills aims to legalize, tax and regulate the use, cultivation and sale of cannabis for the state of Connecticut.
Supporters had their moment to praise the therapeutic properties of the plant, which was then followed by arguments against. Most of the opposition came in the form of suggestions to take the 'wait and see' approach with legalization before Connecticut considers recreational cannabis, as their neighbors, Massachusetts, begin the process of legalizing marijuana.
According to a Courant report, supporters of the legal pot bill included members of the clergy, an addiction consultant, private taxpayers worried about the state's budget crisis, a Hartford City Council member, and a representative of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws.
"You have to look at the downside, the costs of marijuana," said Sen. George Logan, R-Ansonia, saying legalization would result in higher costs for law enforcement, hospital and addiction care. He noted Connecticut has already decriminalized small amounts of pot. "I don't think we need to go the extra steps to make it completely legal."
On the other hand, State Rep Melissa Ziobron (R-East Haddam) is a sponsor of a bill to legalize recreational use. Rep. Ziobron said the following before the General Assembly’s public health committee:
“It’s not just about the revenue,” Ziobron said. “In Denver tourism is at all-time high, no pun intended. They found marijuana laws increased the decision to go on vacation in Colorado by more than 50 percent.”
So far, eight states – including Massachusetts and Maine – have legalized recreational cannabis. Rhode Island lawmakers are also considering legalization.
Medical marijuana is legal in Connecticut, and is available for those suffering from ailments such as post-traumatic stress disorder and cancer. It's been medically legal there since 2012, however, it took two years for their first dispensary to open.