CT: Lawmakers Continue Debate Over ‘Retail Marijuana’

Photo Credit: Ron Smith

The debate over whether Connecticut should allow recreational marijuana continues.

On Thursday, lawmakers held another hearing.

While the state allows medical marijuana, “retail pot” is much more controversial.

This debate has been going on for a few years.

Other states are legalizing retail marijuana and it could bring in lots of tax dollars, but some question whether it’s really worth it.

“This is not an issue of economics for me, this is an issue of social justice. We have been living under a paradigm of prohibition,” said Democratic State Rep. Josh Elliott.

He supports marijuana being sold for recreational use, saying communities of color are disproportionately affected.

These lawmakers have sponsored a bill that would allow people to grow it, distribute it, and sell it.

Once again, lawmakers are letting the public weigh in on lighting up.

“I think it is okay, do we worry about the message about smoking cigarettes being okay, it’s on TV, alcohol is on TV all the time,” said Joseph Toth, who supports retail marijuana.

Other states like Colorado are taxing marijuana and are using the money to build new schools, but opponents are critical, saying it would cost Connecticut millions. They add that we would see increases in car crashes and injuries and there would be more drug abuse and addiction.

Lawmakers had few issues with medical marijuana, but some feel retail pot can be damaging others.

“There’s no way to test for driving under the influence of marijuana, so when there are accidents that occur or people are swerving on the road, police are going to have a difficult time arresting and charging someone who is smoking marijuana,” said Republican State Rep. Vinnie Candelora.

There are kits that test saliva, which can indicate marijuana use but those kits are expensive about $4,000.

The feeling at that this is so controversial, it may be one of those issues where there will be lots of debates, but no action.