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A bill that would create a tax system for and legalize recreational use of marijuana in Connecticut was referred Thursday to a joint judiciary committee meeting.  A bill imposing a tax on medical marijuana up for a hearing today.  Lawmakers this week also advanced a bill to waive fees for veterans who are qualifying medical marijuana patients.  The Office of Legislative Research and Office of Fiscal Analysis received the referral Wednesday and are slated to act on the 20th. 

 

The joint Committee on Transportation was forwarded a bill yesterday that would have notice sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles of juvenile matters involving marijuana-related infractions and driving under the influence offenses. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says there was a big spike in usage when possession of small amounts of marijuana was decriminalized.  She says it's a false narrative to look at how much revenue is coming into Colorado because of legalized recreational use.  She said it would be more accurate to look at what's being spent in response.  Boucher cited an increase in car accidents, people in drug treatment and health care costs.

 

Boucher says it's a sad indictment of the state of things that the state is considering using something she views as a health risk to make money.  She also called it a hollow idea.

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan submitted written testimony opposing this legislation saying it directly violates Federal Law.  Former United States Attorney for Connecticut David Fein told him that unless it is a federally authorized research program, growing, distributing and possessing marijuana is a direct violation of federal law.

 

McLachlan also said the bill would pit state and federal law enforcement officers and agencies against one another.  He also noted that President Trump does not support the use of recreational marijuana use and has signaled law enforcement to strictly follow federal law regarding marijuana usage.

 

Supporters of the proposal cited the impacts in Colorado, including a surge in new jobs to support the industry which brings in taxes and fees annually.  Some say Colorado has been able invest in greater efforts for educating youth and boosting law enforcement. 

 

A 2015 poll by Quinnipiac found that 63-percent of Connecticut voters support legalization of marijuana for adult use.  Eight states and Washington, D.C. have already legalized marijuana for recreational use.  Vermont and Rhode Island are also considering legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

 

Similar legalization bills proposed by mostly Democrats are awaiting action in other committees.

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Jim Bohannon
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