State Representatives Consider Marijuana Legalization

The state of Connecticut has already decriminalized small amounts of the drug and created programs that allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes. Now, some state representatives here in Connecticut hosted an informational hearing today on legalizing recreational use here as it is in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

New Haven State Reps. Juan Candelaria and Toni Walker hosted a discussion about it today and Candelaria said legalizing marijuana could raise revenue during the state's economic crises.

“Now we’re struggling with the budget and how we’re going to … where are we going to find revenue and what programs need to be cut so that we can balance the budget. But now we have a solution. This generates revenue to the state but also to the local municipalities,” Candelaria said.

He introduced the legalization of recreational marijuana usage for this session. While it did not pass, he said he hopes the conversation will start the development of a task force to study how the legalization of marijuana will impact the state.

Part of the proposed bill would tax the drug and direct the money to the state’s general fund.

“We should seriously be considering the decriminalization of this substance for recreational use and capitalize on the many financial benefits it would bring the state coffers," Candelaria said.

Several lawmakers who are in favor of the legalization measure, along with safety experts and Colorado State Rep. Dan Pabon spoke at the meeting.

Pabon said his state is seeing the tax benefits derived from marijuana sales.

“So right now in Colorado, $40 million is dedicated to new public school construction or renovation which is sorely needed all over the country," he said.

When asked about the proposed legislation yesterday, Gov. Dannel Malloy said he is not a supporter of it.

"I think when you legalize marijuana, you're encouraging marijuana and that's not the place I want to go," Malloy said.

He added that he thinks the state has done what is necessary by decriminalizing small amounts of the drug and allowing the use of medical marijuana.

"I believe marijuana should be allowed for whatever medical malady that it brings real comfort to, or assistance to," Malloy said.

According to the governor, decriminalizing small amounts of the drug has taken about 8,000 arrests out of the court system.

Some organizations, including the Guilford Developmental Assets for Youth, also oppose the legalization of marijuana.

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