Letter: The Time Has Come to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Letter to the editor submitted by Sean Goldrick, who served two terms as a Democratic member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.  He lives in Riverside.

During a recent broadcast of WNPR’s public affairs program “The Wheelhouse” journalists broke out in howls of derisive laughter when it was mentioned that General Assembly Democrats were reviving legislation to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.

The next day, Hearst published an editorial in its Fairfield County newspapers opposing legalization this session, calling it “simply a distracting subplot,” and denouncing “paying for past sins through the income of vices.”

Yet, contrary to the press corps’s opposition, legalization is an issue whose time has come.

Support for legalization is gaining momentum across the country.  Last fall, voters in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts approved ballot measures legalizing recreational marijuana use.  Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas and Florida residents voted to legalize medical marijuana, or make its medicinal use easier.  That makes eight states that have now legalized recreational marijuana, and 30 that permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes.  Indeed, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced legislation last month to legalize marijuana across Canada.

Americans now strongly support legalization.  According to a CBS poll published this spring, 61% of Americans favor legalization, while only 33% oppose it.  Three-quarters of Americans under 35 favor legalization, as do 62% of Americans between the ages of 35 and 64.  The poll also revealed that half of all Americans have tried marijuana at some point in their lives.

Connecticut has already come a long way toward legalization.  In 2011, the state decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, and the following year enacted legislation permitting the prescription of marijuana for medical purposes. Today, more than 4,000 licensed physicians in Connecticut prescribe marijuana for over 18,000 patients.

Among the many common sense reasons for legalization, an important one is budgetary.  Fully two-thirds of all states are facing budget deficits, including Connecticut, which is dealing with a projected deficit of nearly $5 billion over the next two years.  Marijuana presents an important new source of tax revenue that cannot be ignored.  Among the states that have legalized recreational use, Colorado collected over a quarter of a billion dollars in sales tax from marijuana last year.  Oregon, in its first year of marijuana sales, collected over $60 million in sales taxes, while Washington took in $67 million.  Washington expects to collect over a quarter of a billion dollars in marijuana revenues in 2017, and more than $300 million in 2018.

Connecticut’s Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates that Connecticut could collect over $13 million in tax revenues in its first fiscal year, rising to more than $60 million in the second year.  If Connecticut follows Washington’s and Colorado’s pattern, in its third year of operation, the state could receive tax revenues of $120-180 million.

That would mean that the state could generate enough tax revenues from marijuana sales to maintain the earned income tax credit program for hard-working, low-income families, a program which Republicans are attempting to virtually eliminate; or substantially reduce borrowings required for school construction; or provide much needed support for educational cost sharing.

Yet even if Connecticut weren’t facing a major budget deficit requiring more revenues, legalization should still be enacted.

Dr. David Nathan, psychiatrist and professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, put it best in his testimony before the general assembly: “I’ve seen too many cases of lives ruined by marijuana – not by the drug itself, but by a justice system that chooses a sledgehammer to kill a weed.”

Nationally, more than half a million Americans are arrested every year for simple possession of marijuana, and more than 200,000 have lost federal financial aid eligibility for college due to marijuana convictions.  According to the ACLU, police arrest more people for simple marijuana possession than for all violent crimes combined.

The time has come for Connecticut to legalize recreational marijuana.  The general assembly has before it a strong bill in HB 11, proposed by Senator Martin Looney and Representative Toni Walker.  Opinion polls show strong support for legalization, and our state needs the tax revenues.

It’s time for the general assembly to act.  The press corps can catch up later.

 

  • Brian Kelly

    Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All American pastime, booze.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Marijuana Nationwide!

    It’s time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national marijuana policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-marijuana, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote’em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

    Politicians who continue to demonize Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

    The People have spoken! Get on-board with Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

    Legalize Nationwide!

    • Brian Kelly

      The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

      Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

      The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

      Marijuana is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

      The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less marijuana “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

      Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

      Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

      • Brian Kelly

        In the prohibitionist’s world, anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are “stoners” and “dopers” that need to be incarcerated in order to to protect society.

        In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their God given duty to worry about “saving us all” from the “evils” of marijuana use.

        Who are they to tell us we can’t choose marijuana, the safer choice instead of alcohol for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes?

        People who consume marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who “follow the law” also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it’s current prohibition of course) .

        Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make them out to be. They are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too.

        Several Presidents of The United States themselves, along with Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates, and Carl Sagan have all confessed to their marijuana use. As have a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives.

        Although that doesn’t mean a dam thing to people who will make comments like “dopers” and “stoners” about anybody who uses the slightest amount of Marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol.

        To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, advertises, and even glorifies alcohol consumption like it’s an All American pastime.

        There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long hard day than having a drink or two of alcohol.

        So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to the rest of society that we can’t enjoy Marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of our own homes?

        We’ve worked real hard our whole lives to provide for our loved ones. We don’t appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all.

        Has a marijuana consumer ever forced you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force anybody not to either.

        Don’t try to impose your morality and “clean living” upon everybody else with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won’t think you’re such prohibitionist hypocrites.

        Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!