Marijuana opponents make their case
HARTFORD — A new report claims the social and medical cost of legalizing marijuana far surpasses the revenue the state would gain.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana on Thursday released a comprehensive report on the projected costs of legalization in Connecticut. The report found that the cost would top $216 million — far more than the projected $113 million in revenue from taxing weed.
“Everyone likes to talk about the assumed revenue that marijuana legalization would bring to a state, but no one likes to discuss the costs affiliated with such policy measures,” said Kevin Sabet, a former Obama Administration drug policy adviser and now head of the anti-legalization group.
“This report will hopefully give lawmakers in Connecticut reason to pause and consider the implications of such policies,” Sabet said.
Deepak Cyril D’ Souza, a Yale professor, said cannabis brings a high social cost.
“By legalizing cannabis in Connecticut we will undoubtedly see an increase in adolescent cannabis use with many negative consequences years later,” D’Souza said. “Is this what we want for our children and future adults?”
The report said much of those costs come from expenses due to auto accidents, workforce production declines, school suspensions, accidents due to intoxication and addiction to the drug.
“Marijuana legalization will lead to a new version of a Big Tobacco industry dedicated to profits that will increase addiction and undermine our youth and the vulnerable,” Sabet said.
A push is under way to pass a bill legalizing weed in Connecticut, in part to gain the revenue retail sales offer. Proponents point out that weed sales to minors would not be legal and, given the drug’s popularity and widespread availability, it’s time to legalize a substance that has become a mainstream.
They also point out that Massachusetts recently legalized recreational weed and sales are due to begin soon, which means Connecticut would be missing out on revenue that will travel across the border.