For the first time ever, a legislative committee has approved a bill that would bring legalized, recreational marijuana to Connecticut. The idea has gained momentum because Massachusetts is on the verge of starting legal marijuana in less than 3 months.
The vote in the Appropriations Committee was 27 to 24 in favor of getting started on this. Four legislative committees debated this topic, and this is the only one to give legalized pot the green light.
Advocates from both political parities say with Massachusetts almost ready for legal marijuana, Connecticut cannot afford to wait any longer. “The more we wait to do that, potentially our revenue could decrease if people are used to traveling to a certain location or business outside of Connecticut,” said Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-East Haddam), the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee.
Sen. Martin Looney (D-New Haven) the Senate President Pro tem, adding, “The reality is that marijuana should be legalized, heavily regulated, and taxed the way we do with other substances like alcohol and tobacco.”
But the Speaker of the House says there will have to be continued discussion within the Democratic caucus before he decides if the bill will actually be called for a vote in the House.
Governor Malloy continues to make it clear that he does not think legalizing recreational marijuana is a good idea, but is not standing in the way, and even included it in his own budget proposal as a possible option to raise money. The Governor saying, “I am not an advocate but I see this as a legislative decision and we’ll see what comes out or doesn’t come out… A legal marijuana plan would in fact require the employment of additional individuals.”
The bill that lawmakers would be voting on would require several state agencies to develop regulations as well as abuse prevention education, and the staff to implement it. The Governor added, “I’m sure they don’t have the resources to do it. It would be a multi-jurisdictional undertaking.”
One estimate says that if Connecticut were to adopt the Colorado legal marijuana model, the state could reap between $60 million and $100 million a year in new tax revenue.