Pubdate: Thu, 15 Feb 2018
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 2018 The Hartford Courant
Author: Sandra Gomez-Aceves and Christopher Keating


Opponents of recreational marijuana legalization in Connecticut argued
Thursday it would cost the state more than it would collect in tax

Legalization would cost the state $216 million in 2020, "far
outweighing even the rosiest tax projections," a report released
Thursday by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a group dedicated to
stopping the legalization of marijuana, says.

"Legislators are scrambling to find additional revenue," Bo Huhn, a
legalization opponent, said during a Thursday morning press conference
at the state Capitol complex. "But if you look at all the costs, you
will find not only will we not make much, but that you lose money on
the deal.''

Although the legalization debate has continued for years, opposition
by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the majority of the legislature has
blocked the measure. No committee in the legislature has voted in
favor of legalization.

This year, Malloy listed legalization among a series of "options'' on
his budget proposal to show how much money could be raised. That
listing raised the hopes of some observers that Malloy would sign a
legalization bill, but he rejected that notion Thursday.

"My personal position has not changed,'' Malloy said. "I permitted
[the option] to be included there because there have been proposals in
the legislature. My personal stance hasn't changed. I was trying to be
bipartisan in including it.''

Supporters of legalization, led by the Connecticut chapter of the
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, handed out a
flier Thursday that said that teen use of marijuana had not increased
since legalization in Colorado, Washington state, and Washington, D.C.

The anti-marijuana report by SAM, using figures from the legislature's
nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, said the estimated cost of
legalizing marijuana exceeds, by more than 90 percent, the maximum
projected official revenue estimate of $113.6 million for the third
year of the proposed legalization program.

The fiscal office said the legalization program will only be fully
operational in its third year of operation if it were to be passed
during the 2018 legislative session, the report said. The costs
mentioned in the report include regulatory costs, increased drugged
driving fatalities and injuries, an increase in property damage,
homelessness, and absenteeism, among others.

"It would be a terrible shame if the legislature would stampede into
this without looking at the costs associated with it and realizing
that instead of being a windfall, this will be something that costs us
money," Huhn said.

Dr. Deepak Cyril D'Souza of Yale School of Medicine said his concerns
included the effects of cannabis use on youth, whose brains don't
develop until they are 25 and are more vulnerable to becoming addicted.

"There's no question that the states that have legalized cannabis also
have the highest rates of cannabis use among their youth," D'Souza

Guilford Police Chief Jeffrey Hutchinson, a member of the state police
chief's association said, "it is clear our job would not get easier.We
know and we are afraid of what's going to happen if [marijuana] gets

Hutchinson said that while they have tests to determine whether
someone is driving under the influence of alcohol, law enforcement
officers do not have one for those under the influence of marijuana.

Nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana
use, including Vermont and Massachusetts.
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