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Bridgeport Mayor, ACLU Seek Recreational Legalization in Connecticut

Joe Ganim, the mayor of Bridgeport, strongly believes that recreational marijuana should be legal in his state.

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,” Ganim said on April 9th. “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.

Ganim, a Democrat, is running for governor of Connecticut. He recently provided testimony in support of Senate Bill 487, which is sponsored by Senate President Marty Looney. If SB 487 passes, adults over the age of 21 will be able to purchase marijuana from licensed stores or grow it for personal use. The bill would also regulate hemp as an agricultural product.

Medical cannabis is already legal in Connecticut, but the new bill would make it easier for patients to obtain cannabis to treat their medical conditions because it would remove bureaucratic obstacles. In his testimony, Ganim advocated looking at the experiences of states such as Massachusetts and Colorado to construct legalization rules.

“What is clear is that Colorado’s economy is booming,” he wrote in his testimony. “And the sky has not crashed as a result of marijuana sales going recreational or retail.”

SB 487 is going to the Connecticut House for a vote later this week. It’s not clear if it has enough support to pass; state Democrats mostly support the bill and state Republicans largely oppose it. The bill’s supporters believe that if marijuana becomes legal, it could generate $45-$150 million in annual revenue.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut also provided legislative testimony in support of the bill. They are encouraging state lawmakers to “further honor individual privacy rights, prevent discrimination, and remedy the disparate burdens that marijuana prohibition has placed on youth, communities of color, and poor communities throughout our state.”

“The ACLU of Connecticut therefore encourages this committee to strengthen this bill with prohibitions on discrimination against people with marijuana-related convictions and with a pathway toward expungement of those records,” the group wrote. “The War on Marijuana, like the War on Drugs overall, has been a failure. It has torn apart families and communities, ruined individuals’ lives, and acted as a vehicle for racial injustice. We urge you to support this bill to mitigate these past injustices and prevent them in the future.”

 

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