With the upcoming legalization of cannabis retail in nearby states Connecticut is re-evaluating their own stance on the matter. A similar push to legalize cannabis sales in Connecticut failed last year. But there’s extra urgency this time around because Connecticut could soon lose potential cannabis tax revenue to neighboring states.
“Massachusetts, Maine and now Vermont have moved forward with this policy and are regulating marijuana like alcohol,” Sam Tracey of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana told WSHU Public Radio recently. “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 (D) agrees. “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,” he told WSHU. “And all that’s happening is that marijuana has been de facto legalized in Connecticut but we are losing out on the revenue.”
But Elliot added that there is also a clear social justice issue at hand too. “Opioids, alcohol and tobacco have found a regulatory structure” in Connecticut even though each one is more addictive and harmful than cannabis.
A hearing was held by the General Law committee on the issue on March 15, and the Finance and Judiciary Committee are in process of drafting a bill. If passed, Connecticut would become the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana.