HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — There’s at least three bills to come this session that would legalize the use of marijuana, and they’re found in both the House and Senate, supported by both Republicans and Democrats. But as there’s bipartisan support, there’s also bipartisan objections, laying the groundwork for what will be spirited debate in the coming weeks over marijuana.
Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney (D-New Haven), drafted a bill to legalize marijuana use and tax it similar to the example set in the state of Colorado. Tax revenue estimates there are around $100 million on the legal sales.
“I would urge us to adopt that broad based legalization and also have a tax structure similar to Colorado which generates significant revenue for the state General Fund,” said Sen. Looney.
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Republican State Representative Melissa Ziobron filed a bill to legalize marijuana use for adults over 21. She also cites the potential for a new revenue stream in a cash-strapped state like Connecticut.
“We have to have a real conversation about legalization of marijuana,” said State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-East Hampton). “We need to have a public hearing at the Capitol. (My bill) not only provides an opportunity with the General Fund, it also has a mechanism to deposit extra revenue in budget reserve fund.”
But the objections are also bipartisan, as opponents on both sides of the aisle plan to fight marijuana legalization, regardless of the potential tax revenue.
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“I think societal impact far outweighs any benefits of getting some tax revenue,” said State Rep. Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford).
Candelora is the House Deputy Republican Leader, and calls marijuana a gateway drug that should not be made more accessible during a terrible period of drug addiction in our state.
“The reality is we have a drug addiction on rise,” Rep. Candelora said. “Opioid, heroin crisis. All those drug users start with marijuana.”
The bills will first be debated in committees, but the dates have not yet been set.