HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Another major General Assembly Committee heard the pros and cons of legalizing recreational marijuana on Monday and again, the majority of those testifying spoke in favor of legalizing pot for those over age 21.
Legal marijuana is expected to be available in about three months just over the border in Massachusetts, but despite all this, head counters at the Capitol say legalization in Connecticut is unlikely.
The highest ranking Democrat in the Assembly, Senate President Pro tem Martin Looney of New Haven, said it’s time to regulate and tax marijuana. Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont are doing it, and Rhode Island and New Jersey are seriously considering it.
Advocates say the legal marijuana business in Colorado has created 18,000 jobs and generated $2.4 billion dollars in economic activity. It is also estimated that close to a half million Connecticut residents use marijuana.Related Content: Connecticut lawmakers taking another look at legalizing pot
William ‘Bo’ Huhn of Guilford is marshaling people from around the state in a group called ‘Smart Approach to Marijuana” to speak in opposition to legalization at another hearing next week. He added, “I believe that legalization is going to be about the worst thing we could do for our kids in this state, in terms of more drug use and more addiction.”
Even though all of the bills before the Assembly call for legalization only for those over age 21, Huhn, whose daughter became addicted to crack at age 15, says once it’s legal, it will become more available to teenagers and science proves it’s very dangerous for them.
Huhn stated, “People don’t start using opiates, they start with alcohol in the basement or marijuana in the woods and they take the next step and the next step and the next step.”
But for the second time this month, the majority of people at a public hearing strongly endorsed legalization. “71 percent of Connecticut residents are in support of legalization and I’d say well over 70 percent of the people in that room are so it’s good to see people turning out,” said Sam Tracy of “RegulateCT” the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana.Related Content: Debate over legalized recreational marijuana
But the Republican co-chair of the Judiciary Committee doesn’t think things have changed since last year. Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield) said, “I actually don’t think the marijuana bill is going to move forward this session. I don’t think the votes have changed from last year. There wasn’t even enough support to get it out of the Judiciary Committee last year and I’m not really sure that’s changed at all.”
Marijuana legalization bills will come before two more committees over the next two weeks.