HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– A vote to legalize recreational marijuana could happen in the state legislature as soon as next week. New polls show a strong majority supports legal cannabis, and that has democratic leaders sounding more confident.
When Massachusetts opened its first recreational marijuana dispensaries in November of 2018, people spent hours in line to buy heavily taxed cannabis products. Democratic lawmakers in Connecticut plan to vote next week to allow the same thing here.
“Begin presenting it to the respective caucuses, doing a vote count, and hopefully beginning at least one chamber, in the Senate, we expect, acting on it some time next week,” said State Rep. Jason Rojas (D – House Majority Leader).
A recent Sacred Heart University poll showed an overwhelming 64% of those surveyed support recreational marijuana, either somewhat or strongly. Just 18% strongly oppose it. That maybe why the speaker of the house is seeing legislators changing their minds.
“I’m struck by the number of people that I thought were ‘no’s’ previously, or ‘maybes’ who are kind of getting there,” said Matthew Ritter (D – Speaker of the House).
From the beginning of the session, many republicans had reservations, especially when it came to the strength of modern marijuana products.
“People that are vaping 90% THC it’s lead to a lot of other health issues we need to have these conversations,” said State Rep. Vin Candelora (R – House Minority Leader), back in February.
States that legalized marijuana have seen an increase in suicides, mental health issues, and in serious automobile crashes. That’s according to the Connecticut State Medical Society’s President, Dr. Gregory Shangold.
“There are clear studies that show using marijuana up to four hours after you use it, it affects your driving,” said Dr. Shangold. “In Colorado, they saw a double in car accident fatalities when it was legalized.”
But it also makes a lot of money. Existing medical dispensaries will easily switch to serving recreational users. The expansion plan in Connecticut is to make sure people and places hurt by illegal drugs are first in line to gain the benefits of this legal drug.
“The whole conversation around equity is about ensuring that entrance to the marketplace is able to be accessed by communities and or individuals who live in the communities that have been most impacted by the war on drugs,” Rojas said.
Equity also involves erasing criminal records for doing something that is no longer criminal.