Pubdate: Tue, 05 Apr 2016
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 2016 The Hartford Courant
Author: Russell Blair


HARTFORD  There won't be a vote on legalizing marijuana for 
recreational use in Connecticut this year but that didn't stop 
supporters and opponents from speaking out at an informational 
hearing at the Capitol Tuesday.

Before Tuesday's meeting, a few dozen supporters gathered outside the 
hearing room and said meeting said legalizing marijuana would bring 
much-needed tax revenue and new jobs to the state.

"What's going to end up selling the bill is economy," said Michael 
Galipeau, a medical marijuana patient from Willimantic. "It makes 
economic sense."

"I'm willing to pay whatever taxes so we don't have to go to jail for 
this," said Seamus Kelly of Waterbury.

Colin Souney, a cannabis activist from Guilford who was scheduled to 
be part of a panel discussion, said legalization would also reduce a 
burden on the state's criminal justice system. Rep. Juan Candelaria 
of New Haven  with support from close to a dozen other Democrats 
introduced legislation in February to legalize and tax marijuana. The 
lawmakers were hoping for a public hearing on the bill, but see 
Tuesday's informational hearing as an important first step.

The hearing is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Legislative 
Office Building. The first two hours of the session are reserved for 
testimony by experts with the public getting a chance to weigh in from noon on.

The Governor's Prevention Partnership launched a campaign this week - 
#StopPotCT - in opposition to the legalization of marijuana in the 
state. The group said any tax revenue from the sale of the drug would 
be offset by other societal costs.

"Increased use of marijuana, including by those under 21, leads to 
higher public health costs for society, far outweighing any 
anticipated financial gains," Jill Spineti, president and CEO of the 
organization, said in a statement.

Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are all pursuing marijuana 
legalization this year. The drug is legal for recreational use in 
Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom