Debate Over Recreational MJ Heats Up At Capitol
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Debate Over Recreational MJ Heats Up At Capitol
Posted by CN Staff on March 07, 2017 at 09:53:06 PT
By Gregory B. Hladky and Nicholas Rondinone
Source: Hartford Courant
Connecticut -- Supporters of legalizing pot in Connecticut argued Tuesday that the time has come to control and tax marijuana in the same way alcohol is regulated, warning that pot prohibition has failed.Democratic and Republican lawmakers said at a morning news conference that legalization of recreational cannabis would end the illegal market in pot, halt the unnecessary arrest of thousands of people for possession, bring in tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue and create new jobs.
But opponents of legalization staged their own competing news conference in advance of the major legislative hearing today on pro-pot bills.Critics of those proposals warned that legalization could lead to expanded use of drugs among young people, pose new problems with providing drug addiction treatment, and create major law enforcement issues.Advocates of ending Connecticut ban on recreational pot rejected those arguments. Connecticut has already legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis."Marijuana is in the state of Connecticut," said Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, "That is a fact… We need to start regulating it." We need to start regulating it." He said failure to do so amounts to subsidizing "the drug lords" that are bringing illegal pot into this state.Rep. Toni Harp, a New Haven Democrat and co-chair of the legislature's Appropriations Committee, said Connecticut needs to look at marijuana as a potential "new industry." She said the potential state revenue from taxing pot in the first year is estimated at $63 million in the first year and $104 million in the second year.Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has come out against legalization of recreational marijuana, as have top Republican legislative leaders. The combination of key opponents would appear to make it unlikely a pot bill could survive this year.But the state is also facing a $1.7 billion projected budget deficit and one legislative analysis found revenue from taxes on legalized marijuana could top $100 million a year, making it a very attractive proposition for some lawmakers.Under federal law, marijuana is viewed as a Schedule I drug — the highest classification, also including heroin and ecstasy."I have intermittently and occasionally smoked marijuana," said Rep. Josh Elliot, D-Hamden. "I don't get high and go to work, I don't get high and drive," he said, comparing his home use of pot to friends who have a drink of alcohol when they home from work.Rep. Edward Vargas, D-Hartford, said he understands people's fears about drug abuse. "No one here is advocating the abuse of drugs," he said.Vargas said the money being made by drug lords "is the blood money" because it is used to buy guns and harder drugs to be sold in our communities.The Republican and Democratic sponsors of four different pro-pot bills pledged to work together in the effort to legalize recreational marijuana."I feel the legalization of marijuana is inevitable and, as such, Connecticut should be at the forefront of the movement in order to set the standard for effective policy," said Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam. Her bill calls for the state Department of Consumer Protection to create a regulated system for recreational pot.Ziobron said discussion of marijuana legalization "is not an easy conversation," and said Connecticut should not rush into legalization of cannabis the way some other states have.A coalition, StopPotCT, were among those standing in opposition of the recreational use of marijuana, a message they brought to the Capitol Tuesday morning.Flanked by more than three dozen police chiefs from cities and towns across the state, the group said this wasn't something the state needs."This is not a substance abuse concern. It's a public health concern. It's a public safety concern," said Carlos Reinoso Jr. of The Governor's Prevention Partnership.Monroe Police Chief John Salvatore, head of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, said they've spoken to colleagues in Colorado who have said there is more crime, homelessness and panhandling as a result of the legislations there.And for safety on the roads, he said there's no way for police officers to measure how intoxicated someone is after consuming marijuana."We believe recreational marijuana use in Connecticut will diminish the quality of life," Salvatore said.Among those joining the coalition to speak of the dangers of recreational marijuana was Dr. Elsa Stone, a retired pediatrician."In adolescents, [marijuana] is not a beg in drug," she said. She added it can hamper critical brain development that often doesn't end until the early 20s.So far, eight states – including Massachusetts and Maine – have legalized recreational cannabis. Rhode Island lawmakers are also considering legalization."The vast majority of voters in Connecticut think it is time to end prohibition and start regulating it similarly to alcohol," said Sam Tracy, director of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana. Tracy was referring to a 2015 Quinnipiac University Poll that found 63 percent of Connecticut residents surveyed support legalization of pot for adults.It is unclear how President Donald Trump's administration will respond to the pot legalization movement.In recent weeks, the Trump administration has alarmed some pot supporters by warning states that have legalized recreational marijuana — California, Colorado and Oregon, among them — that federal law enforcement agents could soon come after them.Source: Hartford Courant (CT)Author: Gregory B. Hladky and Nicholas RondinonePublished: March 7, 2017Copyright: 2017 The Hartford CourantContact: letters courant.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #10 posted by Sam Adams on March 08, 2017 at 16:58:42 PT
Don't be fooled - Connnecticut is a HUGE weed state! Like all the New England states. A lot of people live in uptight Republican suburbs and don't want to talk about it, but it's everywhere.  These LEO's are deluding themselves.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on March 08, 2017 at 16:09:03 PT
Yes... It's a series...
It may come on several times a week. I don't always turn the tv on... but it's often there when I do. I also like that Bong Appetit that comes on Viceland. Except I feel kind of jelly. I think it looks like they have grand fun.Plus, I also read today where They have opened a Margaritaville style retirement home in Florida. Cool! I hope. Sounds cool, anyway. It would be way cooler in California, according to the freedoms, I suspect.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on March 08, 2017 at 12:50:31 PT
Is it a series? I never watch VH1 so I wouldn't know when it is on.
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on March 08, 2017 at 08:15:30 PT
Sorry, FoM
It is a cool show though. I thought it was funny, entertaining, and very pleasant. 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 08, 2017 at 05:15:44 PT
I missed it!
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on March 07, 2017 at 17:38:03 PT
It's good. I'm laughing so.
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on March 07, 2017 at 17:31:19 PT
Snoop and Martha!
So good!
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on March 07, 2017 at 17:29:27 PT
Off Topic
Martha and Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party is on VH1 right now.
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on March 07, 2017 at 12:59:10 PT
RE-legalizing cannabis stops sky from falling in.
"Critics of those proposals warned that legalization could lead to expanded use of drugs among young people, pose new problems with providing drug addiction treatment, and create major law enforcement issues."-0-Yes, relegalizing the plant COULD do those things, however, here in Colorado, those things have not happened.RE-legalizing cannabis COULD also cause the sky to fall in, however, here in Colorado, RE-legalizing the plant HAS ACTUALLY STOPPED THE SKY FROM FALLING IN.
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on March 07, 2017 at 11:49:24 PT
As Usual...
The debate is between ideologues who don't know reality and don't want to know and folks who do know and want to make society a better place.We the people do not want a society where drug lords run free because of an unregulated, illegal market and where you can go to just one dealer who also pushes Oxycontin and Heroin!This is not what we the people want, but the ignorant politicians do not care and do not want to know!
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