When it comes to legalizing pot, Mayor Joe Ganim is in the weeds. The Democratic candidate for governor on Monday urged the General Assembly to pass a “comprehensive, smart approach to legalizing, regulating and taxing recreational marijuana in Connecticut.” Under current Connecticut law marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes and decriminalized for small possessions. It’s unclear if it has enough support to pass this current session of the General Assembly that ends in May.
The proposed bill came out of a legislative committee last week mostly along party lines with a majority of Democrats in support. Backers of legalizing recreational weed say it could generate more than $100 million in tax revenue annually. Some states have legalized recreational marijuana including neighboring Massachusetts while many others have decriminalized it. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a hostile position against states that have legalized pot. Opponents to Sessions position, including some Republicans in Congress, argue its a states’ rights issue, leave it alone.
News release from Ganim:
Ganim recently submitted testimony to the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee favoring Senate Bill No. 487 sponsored by Senate President Marty Looney. The bill would allow anyone over the age of 21 to purchase marijuana for recreational use from state licensed retail outlets. Ganim’s testimony:
Testimony of Joe Ganim On Recreational Marijuana
“A legal regulated recreational marijuana industry would launch a new industry in Connecticut, create thousands of new jobs, and produce hundreds of millions of needed annual tax revenue for the state. It is time we treated and regulated marijuana the same way we treat alcohol or tobacco. It is long past time we in this country acknowledged that attitudes about marijuana have changed dramatically and it is time for us too in this land of steady habits to change with it,” said Ganim
“The entire New England region is moving towards legalizing recreational marijuana. Connecticut has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and established medical marijuana that has been safely and effectively regulated by the state. With the proper regulations in place, Connecticut should take the next step and legalize recreational marijuana” Ganim said.
Ganim added, “I have consulted with Governor John Hickenlooper’s team in Colorado and there is much we can learn from their experience as the first state to implement recreational marijuana. We should be smart about this and use best practices from states like Massachusetts who are moving deliberately towards retail sales of cannabis products later this year.”
Colorado had more than $1.5 billion in marijuana sales in 2015, generating more than $210 million in tax revenue. The industry has generated more than 20,000 jobs, Tax revenue in Colorado from sales of recreational marijuana is used for programs to fight addiction, and public health statistics show usage rates of cannabis products have not increased for any segment of the population.