CT: Marijuana Advocates And Opponents Speak Out At Capitol Hearing

Photo Credit: Sandra Gomez-Aceves

Each year marijuana legislation is up for public hearing, Cody Roberts and Joseph Toth walk through the Capitol clad in marijuana flags. Thursday was no different.

The line to testify at a public hearing on marijuana hadn’t yet formed but the pair kept an eye open, eager to testify before the general law committee. Roberts, of Seymour, had woken up at 5:30 a.m. in advance of an hour drive to Hartford.

“I’m here today because cannabis saved by life,” Roberts said, as he waited for the public hearing room to open. Roberts had a drug addiction and attempted to commit suicide twice.

“I’ve lost eight friends in the past two years to opiate overdoses,” he said. “I feel the plant could offer huge health benefits.”

Norman Plude said that since 2012, he grew the marijuana that best helped him cope with his illness since it was not available at dispensaries. But on June 8, 2016 Connecticut State police raided his Seymour home.

“That day my life changed,” he said, becoming emotional. Plude, who has a court date in April, said he is facing 60 years in prison. According to Judicial records, he is facing four felony charges for possessing and selling drugs, and for operating a drug factory.

“I use raw cannabis. I pick it and I eat it,” Plude said. “It’s the one form of medication, called THC A, that works for me.”

Plude said he suffers from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), which is a malfunction of the nervous system.

“It’s known as the suicide disease because of the pain,” he said. “It’s a burning pain. It’s like a burn, with sand rubbed in and alcohol poured on top.”

All of Hernan LaFontaine’s childhood friends who died of heroin overdoses started their journey’s with an innocent joint on a Saturday night, LaFountaine testified before the committee.

Hernan grew up in East Harlem, what he calls “El Barrio,” in New York City. That was in the 40’s and 50’s before long before LaFountaine would become a graduate professor, Hartford’s superintendent and the president of the Hartford city council.

It was then when “Carlito” squeezed his hand as he died on the top of a billarid table in the local pool room, he said. His childhood years remind him that “drug addiction has always been the devastating human collateral damage of the hunt for profit by immoral entrepreneurs all over the planet,” LaFountaine said.

LaFountaine, a former superintendent of schools in Hartford, said he prays the legislature will show “the ultimate courage in leadership” by rejecting the numerous temptations that come with legal recreational marijuana.