Supporters for marijuana legalization say that doing so could bring a major economic boost to the state. Tourism, job creation and transplant-residents are attractive positive aspects of legalization that supporters plan to make known. Governor Malloy has included marijuana legalization for the first time in his annual budget proposal.
Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney helped pass marijuana decriminalization efforts in 2011, CT Mirror reports. Looney has been a strong advocate for a tightly regulated legal system. Seeing that neighboring states are legalizing recreational marijuana, a bit of pressure is on Connecticut to follow suit.
Looney said, “I do expect a robust debate this year. I wouldn’t say it (passage) is within the realm of probability, but it certainly is within the realm of possibility.”
Sam Tracy of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana said, “Connecticut, the land of steady habits, no longer would have to worry about being the first state.”
Tracy says that Connecticut may be able to see the potential economic impact to neighboring states shortly after legal sales begin.
The coalition proposes a 6.35-percent base sales tax rate plus a 25-percent surcharge. This could generate $71 million in taxes the first year of legalization. The coalition also recommends adjusting the tax to $50 per ounce in 2020 plus the 6.35-percent sales tax.
Projections indicate that by 2020, Connecticut could rake in as much as $166-million in tax revenue.
The Office of Fiscal Analysis projects that the state could generate between $30-million and $105-million annually if regulations similar to other legal states are adopted.
Looney said, “If we do not (legalize sales) and all of our neighboring states do, there is a negative tourism impact. I’m more worried about us losing a competitive advantage.”
It is also estimated that legalization could create thousands of industry jobs.
Bipartisan efforts were introduced in May 2017, but failed to obtain the support required to move legalization efforts forward. Some lawmakers still believe that marijuana use can lead to serious psychotic disorders. Some still argue that marijuana is addicting. Some still compare marijuana use/addiction to opioid addiction – but as Looney pointed out, the two are completely different.
Regarding the potential impact on public health, Looney said, “I think that we need to look at this in the same way we look at alcohol and cigarettes: legalize it but regulate it strongly.”
A debate is expected, but a date for discussion has not been set.