The debate over marijuana regulation isn’t about whether marijuana should exist or whether people should use it. The reality is, even after decades of prohibition, marijuana is used by large numbers of people and is clearly here to stay. Given that reality, the question is how Connecticut can most effectively regulate marijuana — ensuring the rights and freedoms of responsible consumers while working to reduce the harms of both marijuana use and our marijuana policies.
Our state’s drug policies must not harm innocent people, but should instead protect youth, promote public health, boost the economy, and advance social justice.
First, Do No Harm
Marijuana prohibition does far more harm than good, and that’s why a majority of Connecticut residents support ending it. It has disrupted families and destroyed communities, eroding public trust in law enforcement and coming at great taxpayer expense. Despite all of these costs over decades of enforcement, we have nothing to show for it — marijuana is far easier to get and more popular than when prohibition began.
Drug dealers don’t card. Moving marijuana sales into state-licensed outlets would allow for strict regulations against selling to people under 21 years of age. Like in Colorado and Washington, some of the taxes from sales could go towards drug abuse prevention programs that help reduce youth use. Honest drug education, like we have for tobacco and alcohol, are much more effective at reducing youth use than the fear-mongering that comes along with prohibition: With increased public education and tight age restrictions, rates of teen alcohol and cigarette use are at 30-year lows.
Promote Public Health
Apart from our small medical marijuana program, the current marijuana market in Connecticut is completely unregulated. Bringing it into the light would enable requirements for child-resistant packaging, testing products for mold or other contaminants, clear labeling with potency and serving sizes, and bans on certain products that are likely to appeal to children, such as gummy bears.
Boost the Economy
Regulating marijuana like alcohol will create thousands of good-paying jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, retail, and many other fields. If Colorado is any guide, we could see well over 15,000 such jobs in Connecticut, and due to federal law, they would be impossible to outsource to other states. Taxing marijuana sales would bring in over $180 million per year, allowing for the reduction of other taxes or spending on important services like infrastructure or education.
Advance Social Justice
Marijuana prohibition has been disproportionately targeted at communities of color, and criminal records make it difficult to access many government services or even to get jobs, housing, or further one’s education. The new system of licensing and regulation will stop the harm done by prohibition while creating new, legal opportunities. The coalition is committed to a system of regulation that is fair and equitable, providing opportunities for everyone.