OP-ED | By Failing To Act On Weed, Lawmakers Encourage Exodus To Massachusetts
Get ready for traffic jams, Connecticut. No, not on the Merritt Parkway or I-84 in West Hartford. But I-91 and Route 7 into Massachusetts. And a word to the wise: you’d better not return with bloodshot eyes and a bag of Doritos on the center console if the state police in Canaan or Windsor Locks pull you over.
Unlike some trending migrations, this particular exodus out of Connecticut will be fleeting. It won’t be fueled by wealthy residents fleeing to a low-tax state in the Sun Belt. No, this one will be comprised of regular folks going out of state for an hour or two to pick up a bag of goodies for the weekend.
Welcome to 2018, when a law finally takes effect that was passed by Bay State voters two years ago. That ballot measure legalized the use, possession, and sale of recreational marijuana. It passed by more than six percentage points. Sales should begin later this summer. To its credit, Connecticut did legalize medical marijuana in 2012.
As a longtime Connecticut resident who has worked as a journalist in Massachusetts since 2013, I keep a close watch on these kinds of things. I’m convinced that the only reason reason recreational pot has not been fully legalized here is that Connecticut has no way for rank-and-file citizens to petition to get propositions on a statewide ballot.
By my count, eight of the nines states (and D.C.) that have so far legalized recreational use have done so as a result of voter initiatives. Click here for a handy guide. Only Vermont did so exclusively through the legislative process. That’s not a coincidence.
Lawmakers, who as a class of people aren’t the bravest bunch on the planet to begin with, are mostly terrified of having their fingerprints on