BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Some church leaders in Bridgeport are fighting back after state clergy declared support for legalizing marijuana in Connecticut. Church leaders representing 500 houses of worship gathered Thursday to say “no” to marijuana.
Last week, at a press conference at the Capitol, Rev. Charles Stallworth with the East End Baptist Church said the legalization of cannabis would create a culture of “legitimate” producers by “legitimate business instead of drug cartels and criminals.”
Stallworth and other leaders believe the move to legalize cannabis would be a help to Connecticut. Clergy members there argued making recreational pot legal would bring in more tax dollars to the state and free up police resources for more serious crimes.
However, faith leaders in Bridgeport disagree.
“Legalizing marijuana will only further undermine poor communities and foster addiction,” explained Dr. William McCullough with the Russell Temple CME Church said at Thursday’s meeting.
Leaders in Bridgeport believe the legalization would be a huge mistake.
“Substantial research has linked decreased brain development to marijuana exposure during pregnancy, thus directly affecting school achievement,” said Lourdes Delgado with the Faith and Education Coalition.
Governor Ned Lamont and Democratic Lawmakers in the General Assembly, though, have promised to support legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in this session.
This all comes the same day supporters of legalization, a group called “The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws,” erected calls to lawmakers on billboards along I-95 that include phrases like, “Legalize cannabis-regulate like alcohol” and “Legalize cannabis: expunge non-violent crimes.”
The spokesperson for the group says the goal is to increase public involvement in the legalization process.
Faith leaders in Bridgeport standing firm: “If they will not hear our voice, they will hear our vote,” said McCullough.
A public hearing on the governor’s marijuana legislation bill will be held Monday.