A marijuana plant

On March 16, a press conference opposing legalizing marijuana was held in Wallingford, with remarks by Mayor William Dickinson, North Haven’s First Selectman Michael Freda, State Sen. Len Fasano, Reps Mary Mushinsky and Craig Fishbein, the Rev. Todd Foster of New Haven, 19-year-old Jordan Davidson, and others.

In my opinion, media coverage of its intent – opposing legalization of marijuana – generally was lacking, and it seemed to give more exposure to marijuana proponents than to those opposed. Little, if any, coverage was given to Rev. Foster, who spoke eloquently and factually about problems all communities would face, or to 19-year-old  Davidson, who detailed how his escalating addiction to marijuana affected his life.

Media coverage of Connecticut’s legalization issue focuses on projected tax revenue. It fails to account for the fact that surrounding states have legalized or will soon legalize marijuana.  (Consider this: Revenue from Connecticut’s casinos fell as surrounding states legalized casinos.)

Neither print nor broadcast news stories report on the impact to citizens in states that have a years-long history with legalized marijuana.  Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California all have issued impact statements about legalization’s consequences. Colorado has issued such reports yearly since 2013, showing steady increases of the negative effects to health, motor vehicle deaths, adolescents’ school issues, mental health, poison control, and many social problems, including black markets that continue to thrive.

Have any of those facts been presented to the Connecticut public?  No.  Were any of the medical studies of negative health effects ever reported? No. Was any legitimate medical organization’s opposition to medical and recreational marijuana ever reported?  No.

Who will pay for the rehabilitation of marijuana users? Connecticut was a party to lawsuits against the cigarette industry for heath effects of smoking cigarettes.  How will Connecticut handle the fallout of legalization when Connecticut citizens develop serious health issues?  Who will the state sue then? Itself? Big Marijuana business? Will taxpayers just pay for their grand experiment again?

Connecticut, there are already data and studies from those states that have legalized recreational marijuana that answer important questions. Have Connecticut legislators ever researched them?

The California Marijuana impact report states that cannabis requires 450 to 900 gallons of water and significant amounts of energy to produce one pound. That doesn’t take into consideration the pesticides, fungicides, rodenticides and herbicides that pose human health concerns or pollute water supplies. Aren’t we concerned about the environment and climate change?  In California, 70 percent of communities do not allow recreational marijuana and, in addition, rescinded medical marijuana sales. Why do you suppose that is?

One recent impact report, issued by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University (November 2018) states that retail marijuana was legalized in only 46 of Colorado’s 271 incorporated municipalities. Think about that.

In 2016, Denver’s marijuana industry used 4 percent of the city’s energy – that’s enough electricity to power 32,355 homes – and was responsible for approximately 393,053 pounds of CO2 emissions (a greenhouse gas) – that matches CO2 produced by 38,177 cars. Furthermore, the marijuana industry generated 18.78 million pieces of plastic.

Alarmingly, 69 percent of marijuana users say that they have driven under the influence – and 27 percent of them, daily. People who use marijuana daily or near daily indicate they are 25 to 50 percent more likely to develop cannabis use disorder.  In Colorado, the cost to treat cannabis use disorder is $31,448,905.

Since the argument in support of legalized marijuana in Connecticut continually focuses on projected revenue, consider this: For every dollar gained in tax revenue, Coloradans spent $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization; costs related to the healthcare system and from high school drop-outs are the largest cost contributors. The number of Coloradans who attended college and use marijuana has grown since legalization; however, marijuana use remains more prevalent in the population with less education.

The Colorado facts and figures above are from “Economic and Social Costs of Legalized Marijuana” (November 15, 2018), issued by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, and contains information from data and legitimate studies. So that readers may see for themselves legalized marijuana’s impact in Colorado.

Proponents for legalizing recreational marijuana in Connecticut often cite poll results indicating overwhelming public support. If all we ever see on the news is how successful sales in other states are, or the rosy revenue projections, that’s not at all surprising. We are not being given the whole story. The public MUST be informed of the risks and the proven health, public safety, economic and social problems that those other states are experiencing.

William Butka, a retired police officer, lives in Wallingford and is on the board of the Connecticut Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association.

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12 Comments

  1. Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide!

    It’s time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national marijuana policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-marijuana, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote’em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

    Politicians who continue to demonize Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

    The People have spoken! Get on-board with Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

  2. What we certainly don’t need are anymore people who feel justified in appointing themselves to be self-deputized morality police.

    We are very capable of choosing for ourselves if we want to consume Marijuana, a far less dangerous choice over alcohol, and we definitely don’t need anyone dictating how we live our own lives.

    We can’t just lock up everyone who does things prohibitionists don’t personally approve of.

  3. As one who occasionally indulges, I have no issues with adult consumption of cannabis.

    HOWEVER, that said, I have a REAL problem with giving our CT politicians another revenue source when they have yet (in this session) to put forth solid ideas on reducing how our tax dollars are spent.

    Until then, I vote NO for recreational legalization.
    Until then, I vote NO for highway tolls.
    Until then, I vote NO on bottle/container deposits going into state coffers.
    Until then, I vote NO on kitty licensing.

  4. I also agree with Mr. Butka’s reasoned counterpoints, but do see value in medicinal marijuana where it has sound clinical studies behind it.

    It is not the will of all of the people to legalize pot because some folks say it is.

    1. Excellent points. And I think the reason that polls seem to show that the public approves of legalizing recreational marijuana is because the media does NOT report the consequences, the negative effects that are being experienced by every state that has legalized already. And our lawmakers — many (if not most) of whom have had those reports offered and/or provided to them — don’t seem to care. They are under the delusion that somehow, magically, Connecticut will avoid those consequences.

  5. I don’t agree with you but won’t say you all wrong. But the polls do tell the story of the people wanting it legal. With the exception of vermont all these states passed it by ballot. By the states citizens. Not by waiting on legislators .We all know they don’t move fast and are always scared to make big decisions .But it is too hypocritical to not allow us to smoke when you could pull a lot of similar stats about alcohol. Im sure as a fomer officer you know that. Why don’t you all rail against that too. But for conservative colleges stats. I’ll find you the progrssive college with showing you the good side of legalization. Overall. I’m sorry but the war on drugs has failed. Its time to try a new route. You may or may not be correct .But if we try this new way and it does the you say. We change the law back. Look again at alcohol .

    1. The problem with the polls is that the public is not told about the negative consequences that are being experienced in every state that has already legalized recreational marijuana. The media won’t report them. And our lawmakers don’t seem to care, even though they have the reports. There is no need for Connecticut to suffer the same consequences. And once legalization has occurred, there will be no “change the law back”. Once the genie is out of the bottle, there’s no going back.

      1. You do know pot was legal in the country until the 1930s. 80 years ago .It was legal. In fact most drugs were legal .Coca cola has its name cause coke was an ingredient. So yes. Laws can change and go back. We have 2 amendments in the constitution about alcohol to prove that . Though yes even though I’m pro legal .I will agree that there are negatives about .But 10 states and more and more people are seeing the positives out weighting the negatives. All the lies that big pharma and alcohol sold back then to Congress to make these drugs illegal have been exposed. I would like to know your opinion then on alcohol since its legal. What’s the positives

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