A piece of legislation moving through Connecticut’s state house would legalize recreational use cannabis and set up a series of regulations to sell and tax the sticky icky. But before the bill turns to reality - or gets scrapped - Connecticut lawmakers met with residents from all over the state to hear their constituents’ opinions on the proposed legalization.
According to the Hartford Courant, a crowd packed the state house on Wednesday, with outspoken voices ranging from the reasonable to fear mongering, and all the way to absolute ridiculousness.
In an effort to dissuade lawmakers from passing the legalization bill, Robyn Sneider, a member of the Connecticut Association of Prevention Professionals, made some seriously outlandish claims about “opening the flood gates.”
“Those who become addicted to marijuana often go on to experiment with other drugs.” Sneider told lawmakers. “If we open the flood gate by opening the floodgate for those 21 and older, we may as well add weed to our Halloween baskets for kids. That’s how easy it will be for kids under 21 to get access and possibly get addicted. Is that what we want for our children and future leaders?”
Sneider, of course, has no factual backing for her claims, but that didn’t stop her from trying to evoke imagery of drug-addled teenagers roaming the streets America’s wealthiest state. To back up Sneider’s reefer madness era fears, former Sen. Ed Meyer of Guilford, CT told stories about two of his grandchildren who “got” schizophrenia and bipolar disorder thanks to their “persistent” marijuana use.
However, Connecticut lawmakers weren’t easily swayed to the anti-cannabis hysterics. Rep. Steven Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport brought up the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco in American society, and questioned why "we should prohibit recreational use of marijuana" when other, more dangerous vices are so accepted.
And while a large part of the hearing focused on social and moral arguments, CT cannabis advocates made sure to bring up the financial side of legalization. And in a state where taxed cannabis could help alleviate a $1.7 billion budget deficit, the financial aspects are very, very important.
“I think everybody knows how much money has come into Colorado and Washington as a result of their regulating and taxing of marijuana," Becky Dansky, a lawyer with the Marijuana Policy Project, said. "We have seen that they've been devoting it to improving programs in their state and addressing issues such as improving schools and infrastructure.”
No matter what legislators and their constituents decide, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has been vocal in his opposition to legalization, even going so far as to call potential cannabis tax revenue “blood money.”
So while Connecticut’s budget may need the new influx of money, it might take a new head of state to affect any significant change in New England.