New Bill Proposed To Legalize Marijuana In Connecticut, Poll Shows State Residents Want It Passed

State representative Juan Candelaria announced on Thursday that he will "push hard" in legalizing the use and sale of marijuana among adults ages 21 and above.

"I'm going to be engaging my leadership in conversation to at least allow a public hearing," said Candelaria, who will bring up the new proposed bill at the State Capitol in Hartford.

The lawmaker had already proposed a similar bill last year, but it was never raised in the committee. He thinks this new proposal would take a while before it becomes law.

Candelaria is now urging the state legislators to hear what the public has to say about legalizing marijuana sale and use among adults in the state.

According to a Quinnipiac Poll last year, about 63 percent of the respondents agreed that adults should possess a small amount of marijuana for personal use. If the new bill passes, it will allow adults to grow, transport, and consume marijuana without incurring a $150 fine. Several restrictions would still be observed if the bill becomes state law.

Legalizing marijuana is also seen as a means to bring revenue to Connecticut. The state is currently suffering from large deficits. Furthermore, the supporters of the new bill compare the state's situation to that of Colorado. The state of Colorado began to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes in 2000 and recreational use in 2012.

In the previous year, the Centennial State had over $1 billion worth of sales related to marijuana, wherein about $135 million worth of taxes were collected by the state.

Nine other Democratic legislators from across the state joined Candelaria in filing a more specific bill regarding marijuana use. This included some details such as proper packaging and a ban on marijuana use in public.

Hartford representative Ed Vargas, who is one of the nine backers of the bill, said that he believes the "fiscal situation the state finds itself in is fertile ground for discussing the legalization of marijuana."

Unfortunately, while the legalization of marijuana indeed has some of its perks as far as state funds are concerned, Governor Dannel Malloy may not be as enthusiastic about it as others.

"That's as far as I'm comfortable going," said Malloy, referring to the bill he signed in 2012, permitting doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in certain illnesses and conditions.

"But certainly every member of the legislature is entitled to their own opinion. We'll see what happens," he added.

Republican representative Vin Candelora of North Branford also said that it is a mistake to allow the recreational use of marijuana just so "the state can get revenue out of it."

Currently, other New England states such Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island are also planning to pass legislation to fully legalize the use of marijuana.

However, in the midst of talks regarding the legalization of marijuana in Connecticut, some people do not think this will help, especially concerning youths in the state.

Dr. Craig Allen, who is a drug counselor at Rushford, said that marijuana use can have health-related consequences.

"We know that marijuana itself in some cases can lead to psychosis," Dr. Allen said.

Sam Tracy, a University of Connecticut graduate who works in the medical marijuana industry, believes that the proposed bill on marijuana use in the state would not push through this year.

"I think Connecticut will follow suit in a year or two," he said.

However, Tracy believes that other New England states that are pushing to legalize marijuana may succeed this year.

[Image by David McNew and Spencer Platt, Getty Images]