With a large number of neighboring states legalizing marijuana and a projected state budget that is deficit hungry for new sources of revenue, many advocates feel that 2021 will be the year when Marijuana will be legalized in Connecticut, which could coincide with other recent changes to legal processing and bail laws reported by bondsmen serving Hartford County and the surrounding areas of Connecticut.
Legalization has seen momentum on a few fronts across the country. New Jersey was one of the few states that legalized recreational marijuana. Massachusetts legalized it 4 years ago. As per Gov. Ned Lamont, Rhode Island and New York may follow suit soon.
State Deficit Could Impact Legalization Bid
The state of Connecticut is facing a projected $1.2 billion deficit in its budget. A study from economists in October 2020 at the University of Connecticut suggested that legalizing cannabis can help generate a large amount of tax revenue for the state. The projected revenue is about $952 million in the first five years itself. Gov. Lamont, who has supported the legalization of marijuana, previously said that they had not ruled it out as a revenue option.
There is also considerable public support for the legalization of marijuana. A Pew Research Center survey in 2019 showed that about two-thirds of Americans believe that marijuana should be legal in the country. This would also eliminate the need for bail for marijuana charges and open the way to potential release for prior offenders.
Sen. Gary Winfield, who has previously been at the forefront of efforts to legalize cannabis in earlier legislative sessions, said that barring any unforeseen problems like the pandemic, the substance may be legalized during the 2021 session.
The election’s outcome has also given supporters more flexibility in guiding a bill to legalize marijuana through a legislative process. The Democrats have picked up seats in both chambers. As a result, they have a wider majority on the individual legislative committees where the bill needs to be cleared.
Adam Wood, co-director of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, stated that he thinks the additions in the Senate and the House would be extremely helpful in their efforts to legalize marijuana.
Wood stated that the officials should let revenue from marijuana sales be a part of the state’s post-COVID recovery plan. He, however, also put a lot of stress on public health concerns.
Concerns For Legalization of Recreational Marijuana
Some Connecticut lawmakers have concerns about the message that legalizing marijuana would send. Sen Jon Kissel, who is the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said that many communities are already struggling with an opioid epidemic. With Heroin already out there, he was apprehensive about legalizing marijuana and regulating it. He felt that legalizing marijuana could send a mixed message to people.
Kissel said many residents in his district in Enfield, which borders Massachusetts, did not want marijuana dispensaries in their communities. He also mentioned that he was not majorly against the use of marijuana and thought that it was better than alcohol in many ways. But he also felt that it was one more thing that did not enhance society.
It stays to be seen whether Marijuana will be finally legalized in Connecticut in 2021 or not. How the next few months pan out can give us a fair idea.