Is legal marijuana the lesser of three evils?

(AP file)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–Some Democrats at the State Capitol say marijuana legalization is the most acceptable of three controversial proposals that would raise revenue to help solve the state’s red ink problem.

Those pushing this say the tax revenue that could be generated on legal marijuana is too significant to be ignored.

In the Connecticut House, it is believed that legalizing marijuana has supporters among some Democrats and some Republicans.

Democratic leaders say of the three controversial items included in their budget plan–electronic highway tolls, a third gambling casino, and the legalization of marijuana for recreational use–legal marijuana is the most acceptable to constituents. They frequently cite the Quinnipiac Poll that suggests 63 percent approval, but that’s not the only way they tested the topic.  

“People had town hall meetings, people talked to different areas about what are the things, and a lot of us did surveys,” said Appropriations Committee co chair Rep. Toni Walker (D-New Haven).

This is leading some to believe marijuana legalization could pass the House. But the evenly divided State Senate is another matter.

All 18 Republican Senators are said to be opposed, meaning it would take all 18 Democrats and the Lt. Governor’s tie breaker vote to pass.  But at least two Democrats are opposed. Wethersfield Senator Paul Doyle opposed the medical marijuana law and says, “There are always certain issues that trump, that could rise to the level of me not supporting a budget. This one is very, very close.”

And State Senator Gayle Slossberg of Milford,  “I don’t think that we should be driving our budget on the basis of legalizing marijuana. I think there are significant challenges with it. I think there are health reasons why we shouldn’t be legalizing it.”

Senate Democratic leader Martin Looney of New Haven is the prime supporter of legalization and says he is not discouraged.  “We have more support for it now than we had a couple of months ago and we expect to have more support for it by the time a vote comes than we have now.”

Even Senator Doyle, who is very much opposed to legalizing marijuana won’t completely rule out voting for a budget that includes it sometime down the road.

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