Pubdate: Fri, 04 Mar 2016
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2016 New Haven Register
Author: Jack Kramer


HARTFORD - Bills that would legalize marijuana for recreational use 
in Connecticut are considered a longshot by most political observers, 
but opponents want to make sure it stays that way.

That's why the Connecticut Association of Prevention Professionals 
held a press conference this week at the Legislative Office Building 
in Hartford.

"Marijuana is not a harmless drug," said John Daviau, executive 
director of CAPP.

Daviau, a community psychologist, was the main speaker at the press 
conference. He said they don't want politicians to be lured into 
believing that legalizing recreational marijuana would be "a 
financial boon" for Connecticut during a time when the state's facing 
a $1.2 billion deficit over the next 18 months.

Raising revenue is one of the main selling points proponents are 
using to try to get a hearing on recreational marijuana legislation.

Currently there are two proposed bills, one by Rep. Juan Candelaria, 
D-New Haven, and another sponsored by 10 different lawmakers.

Candelaria concedes the chances of the General Assembly passing 
recreational marijuana legislation this session aren't good.

"But I would like to start the discussion," Candelaria said. "If we 
can't get it done this year, maybe we can get it done in the next two 
or three years. It's a process."

Candelaria said he plans to hold an "informational hearing" in early 
April "so that both sides of the issue can come together" and discuss 
the pros and cons of passing recreational marijuana legislation.

Several New England states, including Massachusetts, Vermont and 
Rhode Island, are considering full-scale legalization.

Lawmakers from Massachusetts traveled to Colorado to study that 
state's marijuana industry, and Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon 
and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana through 
ballot measures, a process not used in Connecticut.

Connecticut established a medical marijuana program in 2012 and 
decriminalized possession of small amounts of the substance in 2011. 
But Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signaled that's as far as he'swilling 
to go on the issue.

"I'm not in favor of legalizing marijuana," Malloy said earlier this month.

However, what's going on around Connecticut concerning recreational 
marijuana has those opposed to legalization worried.

"People addicted to marijuana are more than three times more likely 
to be addicted to heroin," CAPP President Kristin Sandler, said. 
"This reinforces how important it is that we focus on drug policies 
that protect our young people and the overall health of our state."

Marijuana is linked to serious heath and development risks, said 
Sandra Carbonari, a pediatrician and the immediate past president of CAPP.

Both Daviau and Carbonari said marijuana use in young people results 
in a decline in graduation rates and IQ levels, as well as increases 
in mental illness, traffic deaths and heroin addiction.

Reps. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, and Sean Scanlon, 
D-Guilford, were honored by CAPP for their efforts in speaking out 
about substance abuse issues.

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