Statement of Senator Bergstein Opposing SB 1085 re: The Legalization and Retail Sale of Cannabis

State Senator Alex Bergstein (D-Greenwich), who is Senate Co-Chair of the Judiciary Committee,  issued the following statement on Monday as the only Democratic state senator on the Judiciary Committee to vote against Senate Bill 1085:

“An act concerning the legalization of the retail sale and possession of cannabis and concerning erasure of criminal records in the case of convictions based on the possession of a small amount of cannabis.”

“First of all, I want to say I have a profound respect for our committee chairmen and the extensive work they did to try to protect children and prevent anyone under age 21 from using cannabis.

“But as the mother of three teenagers, I can’t support legalization. Our kids will say, ‘If it’s legal, how can it be bad?’ Because when you legalize something, you normalize it. 

“And the science is robust and alarming. Studies show that a third of teens who use cannabis will develop severe marijuana use disorder. A Harvard study notes brain abnormalities that grow with greater use. Marijuana impairs short-term memory, lowers IQ, and causes seizures and psychotic episodes. These consequences alter the brain function and cannot be reversed.

“In addition, the potency of today’s marijuana is much higher than it was in the past, and there is no biomarker, no accurate test for detecting who is under the influence.

“I’m in favor of the expungement of criminal convictions for certain marijuana offenses, and I am in favor of regulating marijuana, but I am not in favor of decriminalizing or legalizing it beyond what we have already done in the State of Connecticut. I believe the public health and safety costs of legalizing marijuana far outweigh the possible benefits.”