As soon as I saw that both Maine and Massachusetts legalized cannabis, I knew it was just a matter of time before other states in the Northeastern U.S. started to talk more about legalization. One of the states in that part of the country that has been a hot button topic as of late is Connecticut. Will Connecticut legalize cannabis?
Massachusetts (Connecticut's neighbor) is on par to have a new law for legalized cannabis that fully takes effect next year. This fact and Connecticut's other fiscal issues has prompted the state's lawmakers to seriously consider the possibility of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults.
Several bills with bipartisan support that sanction the retail sale and cultivation of pot are currently progressing through the state's General Assembly. The first bill drew dozens of supporters recently at a Public Health Committee hearing, many praising the proposed legislation as a way to regulate an illegal industry and potentially deliver millions of dollars for the state.
According to the Harford Courant, the largest daily newspaper in Connecticut which is also often recognized as the oldest continuously published newspaper in the U.S., supporters of legalizing pot in Connecticut argued Tuesday that the time has come to control and tax marijuana in the same way alcohol is regulated, warning that pot prohibition has failed.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers said at a legislative hearing that legalization of recreational cannabis would end the illegal market in pot, halt the unnecessary arrest of thousands of people for possession, bring in tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue and create new jobs.
But some members of the legislature's Public Health Committee were clearly doubtful about the claimed benefits of legal pot.
"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."
Lawmakers heard conflicting testimony from medical experts on both sides of the issue.
These bills proposed in the 2017 session of the General Assembly would help Connecticut legalize cannabis, and we will continue to keep you updated on more news about them as they move through the State's Congress.