Recreational Marijuana Passes Hurdle in Connecticut Court

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The legalization of recreational marijuana took a favorable turn in April when Democrats in the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee voted on a bill that may lead to the formal legalization of the substance. The bill particularly focuses on recreational marijuana use among those who are 21 years and above.

A report said that the proceedings resulted in the establishment of regulations that people 21 years and above should follow to purchase the substance. These include a scanned ID and maximum possession of 1.5 ounces of the substance. The rule also strictly prohibits home growing of weed.

Aside from bringing in more revenue to the state, the bill is also beneficial to those who were previously convicted of possession of the substance as this is now their chance to redeem themselves erasing all criminal records. Most of those convicted are African-Americans who got arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

According to Senator Doug McCroy, the previous laws governing marijuana possession were ‘unnecessary racist laws’ and have destroyed communities.

Although the Democrats got the vote, it did not stop Republicans from airing their opinions about the disadvantages of legalizing recreational marijuana particularly on its possible effects on the family and the youth.

Rep. Tom O’Dea (R-New Canaan) asked other colleagues and lawmakers to have a second look on the bill and its impact on children.  “Let’s protect our youth for a little while longer. Let’s see what the studies show over time,” he said

Republican State Senator Dan Champagne together with other Republicans also have the same stand on the issue.

Given those reasons and I want to keep our youth safe, I will be opposing this today,” the senator said.

Meanwhile, Democratic State Representative Maria Horn may have voted for the bill but still kept her mind open for possible future repercussion on the legalization of marijuana.

“I will be supporting this bill today for a variety of reasons but I do have strong reservations which lay outside this committee and the public health impact, and the impact on addiction,” she said.

The General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee garnered a vote of 21-19 favoring the Democrats who propose regulations on the sales of marijuana among adults 21 years old and older. Despite this development, a source is still questioning whether there would be enough supporters for the bill as it is passed on to the General Assembly for the full Senate and House of Representatives.

Not all Democrats supported the move to legalize recreational marijuana.  State Sen. Alex Bergstein, a mother three and one of the Democrats who are against it said that its legalization may send a wrong message to kids.

Our kids will say, ‘If it’s legal, how can it be bad?’ Because when you legalize something, you normalize it,” the senator said.

Aside from regulations concerning the purchase of recreational marijuana, lawmakers also clarified certain rules on marijuana use at work. It was agreed that employers ‘don’t have to allow workers to possess, smoke or consume marijuana products, or perform their duties under the influence of cannabis.’

Another bill was also raised concerning rules regarding driving under the influence.

Advocates are hopeful that the bill legalizing recreational weed will be included in the bills that moving up in the legislative process this year and will gain consideration and attention from lawmakers.

Connecticut may be the fourth New England state to legalize recreational marijuana. Currently, three New England states include Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont have approved the bill. Connecticut legalized medical cannabis in 2012.