by Charles A. Monagan
May 10, 2011
01:22 PMOn Connecticut
"Reeferendum" Follow Up
In the March issue, we wrote about the possibility of marijuana legalization in Connecticut, both in terms of the approval of medical marijuana and the decriminalization of small amounts. With a new administration taking over in Connecticut -- including a governor whom publicly endorsed both movements -- it seemed as though marijuana's time had come.
So far, it appears that nothing has happened that will send either effort up in smoke. Last week, the legislature's Public Health Committee decided to move forward with the bill allowing medical marijuana to be prescribed by physicians for medicinal purposes. Today, the Finance Committee is expected to consider the governor's proposal for less than a half ounce of marijuana to be punished with only a fine rather than be treated like a misdemeanor and include prison time.
Although popular publicly, both bills still face significant opposition, in no small part due to the fact that marijuana continues to be an illegal substance according to the federal government -- an illicit Class 1 narcotic under U.S. law. Many police and community leaders are staunchly against pot, medical or otherwise, considering it a gateway drug. Others also question the logic of how possessing a little of a substance can be okay, but having more of it becomes a crime. Then there's the issue of who is going to be responsible for dispensing it and monitoring the process.
Those in favor of legalization counter with myriad points. One argument that has been made that marijuana should be up to the states to decide this issue for themselves. Many also see this as a fiscal decision, as the time and resources spent prosecuting pot possession could be better spent in the pursuit of "real criminals." Then of course, there's those who love to say things like "How many people were killed by drivers smoking weed vs. people who get behind the wheel impaired by alcohol?" And so on.
Even if both these marijuana bills go forward and end up being signed into law by the governor, it seems as though the haze surrounding the legality and enforcement of it all will continue to linger for quite a while."Reeferendum" Follow Up