Wallingford mayor speaks out against pot legalization in Connecticut; rally planned for Town Hall Saturday

Wallingford mayor speaks out against pot legalization in Connecticut; rally planned for Town Hall Saturday

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WALLINGFORD — Ahead of an anti-pot legalization rally planned at Town Hall Saturday, Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. warned that marijuana remains untested under federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines and has not been approved for medical use, despite Connecticut’s law allowing use of the drug to treat certain conditions.

No known studies of marijuana have been accepted by the FDA or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dickinson said.

“Their analyses require a lot of scientific research and clinical studies,” he said. “The word from the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is there is no known medical use for marijuana.”

Multiple bills were introduced this legislative session aimed at legalizing marijuana. Dickinson said that the lack of testing and analysis of marijuana makes calls for statewide legalization a public health issue.

“We’re very concerned about encouraging the use of marijuana when there’s been no testing,” Dickinson said. “How do we know it’s safe?”

He added that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

As a Schedule I drug, the government has found “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

However, that hasn’t stopped 10 states and the District of Columbia from legalizing small amounts of recreational marijuana, beginning with Colorado and Washington state in 2012.

Connecticut approved marijuana for medical use in 2012.

The rally is planned for 11 a.m. at Town Hall, 45 S. Main St.

Dickinson said guest speakers include the Rev. Todd Foster, pastor of Church on the Rock in New Haven, president of Coalition for a Better Wallingford Ken Welch and a recovering marijuana addict.

Town and state legislators have been invited, Dickinson said.

State Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said Thursday he plans on attending.

“I think that introducing another drug into society isn’t positive for anyone,” he said. “I’m concerned about impacts it’s already having on our children, the impact it will have on employment and job productivity, and also the increase in driving fatalities and driving under the influence.

“We know it’s physically addictive and it causes changes to the brain, but we don’t have many long-term studies on usage,” Candelora added.

State Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, takes the opposite approach. He was part of a group of lawmakers that laid out a three-part plan to have the General Law, Judiciary and Finance legislative committees hold public hearings on different parts of a proposed marijuana-legalization package.

“That’s an opportunity for the community, in favor and against, to come and testify,” he said. “Once we have the public hearings with these three committees, then we’d combine the legislation into one bill and bring it to a vote in the House.”

He said that the state may soon feel economic pressure as other states move forward with legalization.

“We in Connecticut are going to be in the middle,” he said, “and our residents are going to go to New York and Massachusetts (to buy marijuana), and we wouldn’t get revenue generated from that.”

It’s estimated that the state could generate as much as $350 million from marijuana sales, he said.

He said that he hadn’t heard about the event planned for Saturday in Wallingford.

“Everybody has the right to rally to express their opinions, but I believe people also need to be educated on the benefits of the legislation,” Candelaria said.  

Without regulation, marijuana being sold is “laced with other products,” he said. 

“We have no control over it,” he said, “but if we regulate the adult use to marijuana, we would control the access.”

He said revenue could be used to fund community resources, like prevention and addiction services.

“Invest those dollars and really make an impact,” he said. 

Funds could even be used to fund marijuana studies.

“(Existing) studies are inconclusive,” he said, “because at the federal level, marijuana is a Schedule I drug and cannot be tested on.”


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