A group of legislators have introduced a bill in Connecticut to legalize recreational marijuana and expunge criminal records related to marijuana violations. However, the town of Guilford is so opposed that they travelled to Hartford to voice their concerns.
The proposed legislation currently under consideration lays out the specifics for legalization of recreational use, setting requirements that such as sales only to those age 21 and over. Tax revenue from the drug will go to programs which include testing for potency, drug awareness and treatment, funding further research, and the inclusion of drug prevention officers in schools.
Current estimates show the state could see as much as $100 million to boost the economy once the laws are in place and full implementation occurs. The regulation for such an industry would fall on the Department of Consumer Protection. Another facet of the law is that a reliable method of testing drivers for impairment by marijuana during roadside stops would have to be found and utilized.
Marketing and advertising marijuana would be prohibited in the state. And, while the law is set to include expungement of records related to marijuana possession, the details are still a bit fuzzy on that aspect.
Meanwhile, support is far from unanimous throughout the state. In fact, Guilford, CT, residents attended a “Know the Risks” press conference on Jan. 22 to vocalize concerns and outright opposition to the proposed legalization move. The conference, which was hosted by State Reps. Vincent Candelora and Noreen Kokoruda, as well as the Connecticut Chapter of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), also included various students and professionals, including medical professionals, as well as law enforcement and the Connecticut Association of Prevention Professionals.
Bo Huhn, a Guilford resident and spokesperson for SAM, spoke at the conference, advocating for more research and a better understanding of the risks and potential impact on youth and families if the move is made to legalize recreational marijuana use.
State Rep. Candelora spoke as well, noting that the main concern cannot be revenue. Instead, the move to legalize should be made based on all necessary information and after weighing the benefits and potential issues.
Youth from Guilford High School also made the trip, voicing concern that marijuana is a “harmful” drug and that legalizing recreational use will make it easier for those under 21 to get access to the drug as well.