Recreational marijuana proposals to get two public hearings

Marijuana plant (file)


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — For the first time, proposals to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Connecticut will receive not one, but two public hearings at the Capitol.

As News 8 first reported in December, the atmosphere surrounding the issue changed dramatically when voters in Massachusetts voted in November to legalize marijuana.

New Haven Democratic State Representative Juan Candelaria has tried for nearly three years to get the idea of legalizing marijuana for recreational use before state lawmakers. It appears that the third time will be the charm. For the first time ever, two important General Assembly Committees will hold public hearings on proposals to legalize the use of what was once known as the ‘evil weed.’ The first hearing will be next Tuesday, March 7.

The idea got an extra boost when the President Pro tem of the Senate, Martin Looney of New Haven, attached his name to a bill to to fashion a law like the one in Colorado.

“Taking it away from the black market, from drug dealers that do have an incentive to entice our younger children to try marijuana or to try harder drugs,” said Candelaria.

Candelaria also says with the existing legal medical marijuana growers, Connecticut already has an infrastructure in place to insure buyers are getting a product that’s not cut with other drugs. And that the state could be up and running before Massachusetts, which will likely draw buyers from Connecticut and New York.

This is not just a liberal Democrat idea; Republican State Rep. Melissa Ziobron of East Haddam, has also authored a bill fashioned after the Massachusetts plan.

“It authorizes marijuana to be sold to folks who are 21 and older and also gives them the ability, 21 and older to also grow or cultivate marijuana in their home as well,” said Ziobron.

The co-chair of the Public Health Committee, Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) will conduct the first hearing.

“We started because Massachusetts has been going down this path and because revenues continue to be an issue for us and it’s very attractive in that sense,” said Steinberg.

Representative Steinberg also says that it’s appropriate for the process to start with the Public Health Committee to weigh those pros and cons. One estimate places the potential tax revenue to the state at $30 million to $100 million.

The Judiciary Committee will conduct the second hearing on the issue on March 22.

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