Connecticut Lawmakers Consider Legalizing Marijuana

Photo Credit: Jeff Chiu

The legal retail of marijuana in Massachusetts begins July 1. That’s prompted Connecticut lawmakers to once again consider legislation to allow the sale of marijuana in the state. Similar legislation failed last year.

Sam Tracey, with the advocacy group Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, says Connecticut could lose millions of dollars in tax revenue to neighboring states if it doesn’t allow the retail sale of marijuana.

“Massachusetts, Maine and now Vermont have moved forward with this policy and are regulating marijuana like alcohol. Very soon people are going to be able to drive over the Massachusetts border and purchase marijuana legally if they are over 21. So Connecticut, if we stay with our current course of inaction, we are losing all of the tax revenue to Massachusetts.”

State Representative Joshua Elliot, a Hamden Democrat, agreed, saying, “People can take a 20-minute drive across the border buy their recreational cannabis and come back to the state, no repercussions, because it’s been decriminalized here. And all that’s happening is that marijuana has been de facto legalized in Connecticut but we are losing out on the revenue.”

Elliot says allowing the retail sale of marijuana in Connecticut is also an issue of social justice. Representative Steven Stafstrom, a Bridgeport Democrat who serves on the Judiciary Committee, says lawmakers have heard testimony saying marijuana is less addictive than three other substances that are allowed to be sold in the state.

“Those being opioids, alcohol and tobacco. All of which we have found a regulatory structure for. And have decided that the possession and use of those substances is not illegal under the laws of our state.”

Several legislative committees are looking into possible legislation. The General Law committee held a hearing on Thursday. And the Finance and Judiciary Committee are also trying to craft a bill.