This letter originally appeared on Courant.com.
I was sad to read "Foreign Competition, Labor Costs Push Connecticut Shade Tobacco Farmers To The Edge" [courant.com, June 15]. As teenagers, both of my parents picked tobacco as summer jobs, and places like my hometown of South Windsor have lost nearly all of their farmland over the past decade. Shade tobacco is a big part of our state's history and an important source of employment and revenue. To give farmers a new cash crop, we should legalize marijuana for adults in Connecticut.
States that treat marijuana like alcohol have seen great economic growth, and neighboring Massachusetts plans to start sales in July 2018. From what we've seen in Colorado, our state's legislators could create more than 19,000 jobs simply by removing our ban on marijuana and replacing it with sensible regulations. And due to federal law, marijuana sold in Connecticut would have to be grown in Connecticut, so farmers would not face competition from other countries or even other states.
The Connecticut Farm Bureau supports marijuana legalization as a way to boost Connecticut agriculture, and this change is also supported by 63 percent of Connecticut voters. Legislators should listen and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
Sam Tracy, South Windsor
The writer is director of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana.