Connecticut is in a severe economic crisis. Lawmakers have said they are willing to put everything on the table to solve the problem.
Then they decided not to vote for marijuana legalization. They didn't vote against it, they didn't even hold a vote on it. They also delayed the vote on tolls and casinos because really, why do anything at all? The crises will handle itself!
If their inaction pisses you off as much as it pisses me off, contact your reps. You can start with the CT Speaker of the House, Joe Aresimowicz. Email him at Joe.Aresimowicz@cga.ct.gov.
In the past few years, several states have legalized recreational weed and/or medical weed. Many of these states have even closed their budget gaps because of the tax revenue windfalls created by legal weed. Colorado made $67 million from marijuana (through taxes, licenses, and fees) in the first year of legalization, 2014. Last year they made $247 million. Our neighbors to the north and to the east have both legalized weed recently. It's not hard to smell which way the wind is blowing. And yet...
Malloy is an idiot. That has to be it, right? That's everybody's go to reason for things sucking in Connecticut. And he does deserve some of the blame; he has said he would veto any bill to legalize weed, so he hasn't exactly set an agreeable atmosphere for legalization. But no bill has even gotten to his desk.
Maybe the Puritanical belief system is still too firmly ingrained in Connecticut's psyche to get over our qualms about the "morality" of legal drugs. We are liberal when it comes to most things, but as a whole, Connecticut is uptight as hell. It was only a few years ago that stores could sell alcohol on Sunday.
To be fair, some people have legitimate concerns about legalizing weed. These concerns are based on years of anti-marijuana propaganda, but hey, people are still concerned. Despite the fact that it is not nearly as harmful as alcohol or tobacco, it's true that kids shouldn't be smoking or eating it, and people shouldn't be driving impaired. However, the science and research shows that we needn't be that concerned. There has been no increase in the rates of usage among kids in states where it has been legalized. People do drugs at around the same rate no matter what. Legalization doesn't make someone who wouldn't smoke pick up smoking. It just means people that want to smoke can do so a little more easily. We will have to be careful about letting kids get it, because there have been cases where kids accidentally ate weed edibles, but those kids are fine! They took a nap and got over it. Honestly though, those few incidents don't outweigh the benefits. Besides, if we really cared about kids, we would have banned smoking cigarettes years ago. And guns, but that's a different post.
Driving safety is a more valid concern. One study showed that Colorado has seen more accidents involving weed since legalization. Some advocates of legal weed have even cited this study as an issue. The thing is, the study never says that weed is a cause of these accidents! It also says very clearly that the stated results are inconclusive, and that most of the people involved in the accidents also had other drugs in their system, mostly alcohol. The idea that weed would lead to more accidents makes a kind of logical sense: some people are awful drivers, and any added amount of distraction is bad. Intuition doesn't always equate to fact, though. When people are tested for weed after an accident, that test doesn't show if the person smoked an hour ago or a month ago. It would be the same results. There's simply no causation between weed and an increase in accidents. And again, if we cared so much about impaired driving, we would ban alcohol, or at least enforce stricter DUI laws.
As always, there are other, more absurd arguments for keeping weed illegal. Most people know that the hysterics shown in "educational" films like Reefer Madness were ridiculous propaganda, so the anti-weed people have gone to different, although similarly absurd lengths to make their argument. Illinois police recently said they will have to KILL THEIR OWN DOGS if weed becomes legal! The canines in the K-9 unit would be laid off and there are simply no alternatives but to kill those unemployed bum dogs. Obviously. Duh.
Others hang on to simpler (yet just as wrong) claims like weed is a gateway drug. These claims are often put forward by people or groups with vested interests in keeping weed illegal. Not to fall into conspiracy theories, but it's really hard to understand the hesitance of some politicians on the issue of legalization, especially in a place like Connecticut. Maybe it's because the pharmaceutical companies don't want a drug on the market that they don't own. Doctors in Maine (and all over, really) suggested using marijuana to help fight the opioid epidemic. You know, the epidemic that is killing about 60,000 people a year for the past few years; the deadly epidemic that was started by Purdue Pharma and unscrupulous doctors who pushed opioids on unassuming patients. The epidemic that pharmaceutical companies are still profiting from.
States with legal medicinal marijuana have lower rates of opioid overdoses than states without. We have to decide if we care more about people dying than about people getting high. There have simply never been any marijuana overdoses. Weed can also help alcohol/drug relapses in addicts. People getting high on weed is objectively preferable to people dying from overdoses.
People do drugs, it should be a priority to make sure they are doing it in the least harmful manner. Legalize and regulate all drugs. Places that have needle exchanges for drug addicts have lower incidences of HIV/AIDs and overdoses. It would be better if those people didn't do the drugs, but they are doing them; let's make it as safe as possible so they don't hurt others and they minimize the damage to themselves. Limit their doses, and make sure they aren't accidentally getting fentanyl.
We need to be much more practical. Legalizing weed, in particular, should be a no-brainer (pun based on anti-weed propaganda intended). Legalizing weed can cut down on overdoses, so even if it means more people overall smoke weed than before (which isn't necessarily going to happen) we should legalize it for healthcare reasons. Weed can help fund schools and infrastructure (or pensions or social services or the thousands of other things we don't have the money to pay for in CT) so we should legalize it for financial reasons.
There's just so many reasons to legalize it, and I'm not even getting into the racial disparities when it comes to the criminalization of weed, even in that bastion of liberal progressivism, New York City. All races do drugs at approximately the same rate, yet (surprise!) white people get arrested for it much less. That also means that once we legalize, we must immediately vacate all prior arrests and release anyone in jail on weed related charges.
There are simply no more excuses for keeping weed illegal. It's practical on a social, moral, and financial level, and it has bipartisan support. Make something good happen for once, Connecticut! Email/call/harass (legally) your legislators here.
I Love You All...Class Dismissed.