Advocates for marijuana sales point to big economic boost
Advocates for legalizing recreational marijuana use in Connecticut — and taxing its sales — are hoping a holistic, economic argument will win the day this year.
Supporters say the potential to bolster the state’s tourism industry, create jobs, and even encourage young professionals to locate here, should attract votes for an issue that couldn’t get a vote in the House or Senate in 2017.
And while Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has not proposed legalization or taxation, he did list it for the first time in his annual budget presentation — albeit as an “option” for those who don’t like the budget-balancing moves he has endorsed.
“I do expect a robust debate this year,” said Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, although he conceded some lawmakers may steer clear of the controversial topic during a state election year. “I wouldn’t say it (passage) is within the realm of probability, but it certainly is within the realm of possibility.”
Looney, who proposed and helped secure passage of decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana in 2011, has been a vocal advocate for legalizing and taxing its sale, with tight regulations.
And things have changed in recent years.
Eight states now permit the sale of marijuana for recreational use. They are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
Vermont recently legalized recreational use of home-grown marijuana. And while the states that permit and tax the sale of pot adopted those statutes by popular ballot, Vermont approved its new law through a vote of the legislature.
“Connecticut, the land of steady habits, no longer would have to worry about being the first state,” said Sam Tracy, director of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, the local affiliate of the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project.