A group of Connecticut lawmakers have banded together in an iron pipe swinging effort to end prohibition in the Land of Steady Habits.
Representative Juan Candelaria of New Haven recently announced that he and a fierce legion of nine supporters submitted a brand-spanking new proposal in the General Assembly calling for the legalization of recreational marijuana. The proposal would create a fully legal cannabis industry that would allow adults 21 and over to purchase weed from retail outlets across the state without any concern that a law enforcement officer may be lurching around the corner waiting to drag them to the local jail.
Although Candelaria is under no illusion that his goal to free the leaf in a manner similar to what is being discussed in neighboring Vermont will be easy, he has vowed to at least persuade leadership to allow the issue a public hearing. However, the lawmaker has not given any indication what he might be prepared to do in order to keep his current proposal from ending up like one that was tossed into the ring last year, but was never even given an opportunity to be gnawed on by the wolves in committee.
Yet, some supporters of this legislation have suggested that they will lean on the state’s more than $500 million deficit as a key motivator.
"I think the fiscal situation the state finds itself in is fertile ground for discussing the legalization of marijuana," Representative Ed Vargas, a co-sponsor of the bill, told the Hartford Courant.
It certainly makes sense to put a price on marijuana to drum up explosive tax revenue for a state that continues to struggle to put money in the bank.
After all, Colorado, the first state to launch into this so-called experiment of allowing pot to be grown and sold in the spirit of capitalism, is now selling in upwards of $1 billion worth of cannabis products a year. That means somewhere in the vicinity of $135 million in annual tax revenue stands to be collected for the state—money that will be used for the betterment of the community.
But even with an aggressive plan of attack in place, Candelaria understands that bringing the concept of legalization to Connecticut in 2016 is really just a pipe dream. Yet, he believes it is important to continue chipping away at the conservative politics that perpetuate the state’s current prohibitionary standard to ensure progress breaks within the next “five to 10 years.”
It would seem that Connecticut is in a perfect place to open up a serious debate over full legalization.
Over the past couple of years, Governor Dannel Malloy has put his support behind the decriminalization of small time pot possession, and it was under his leadership that the state launched it’s medical marijuana program. Strangely, however, the governor admits that he has gone as far as he wants in the realm of pot reform. During a recent press conference, Malloy told reporters that he was “not in favor of legalizing marijuana.”
Despite this unfortunate attitude, legal weed is something the majority of Connecticut voters are interested in seeing happen. Last year, a Quinnipiac Poll found that 63 percent of them supported the idea of establishing a system that would allow people to buy marijuana for recreational purposes.
(Photo Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune)