Let’s be blunt, resolution on the debate over the legalization of marijuana is overdue. Since 2012 when Colorado legalized the drug, several other states have followed suit; this includes Oregon, Maine, and Alaska. The legalization of the drug has been a response to the high number of drug related incarcerations and because of marijuana’s many medical purposes. According to a Pew Research poll, in 2018 62% of Americans favor the legalization compared to only 31% in the year 2000. With increasing favor, it’s only a matter of time until Connecticut legalizes recreational marijuana too.
Ned Lamont, Democratic Connecticut state Governor-Elect, supports the legalization of the drug, especially because it is predicted to rake in millions in tax revenue for the state. On September 12th at a candidates’ debate in New London, Lamont stated, “It is another source of revenue for the state, all of our neighbors have legalized marijuana. We [can] do this carefully [and] regulate it.” Colorado is a prime example of a state using the legalization to their benefit, boasting a tax revenue of $247,368,473 in 2017 alone. These numbers can help with the state debt and lower state taxes for some.
Connecticut currently allows medical marijuana, but not recreational. As of today, there are 31 conditions on Connecticut’s medical marijuana list. The 31st condition, chronic neuropathic pain associated with degenerative spinal disorders, was added just last month. A medical marijuana card owner and Waterford resident explained, “There are many benefits to using marijuana…. I want people to know that this drug can help with other illnesses like anxiety and PTSD, which I think will help many young people.” Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S. for people over 18, and it is believed that marijuana can be relaxing for some. It is safe to say that in time, marijuana will be more accessible and be more useful for young people.
For many states the legal age to use recreational pot is 21 years. Many teenagers, however, continue to use the drug, and it’s important to remember the consequences of using it illegally. Consequences include hefty fines and for those caught “drugged driving,” they will find their licenses being suspended. Officer Whitehead believes that it should be legalized for adults but adds, “Marijuana is not a teenage drug. It will stay in your system for 30+ days, which is why we make people pee in a cup.” If caught with less than 1/2 an ounce it will be classified as a “First Offense,” but with more than 1/2 an ounce it will classify as a “Class A misdemeanor,” which includes up to a year penalty in prison. While the drug has many benefits, keep in mind that it is still a drug that has different effects on those who use it, such as psychological dependance and emotional un-attachment. Teenagers need to be aware of these side effects and be educated before they pick up a joint and smoke with their friends.