OPINION: The question of legalizing marijuana

OPINION: The question of legalizing marijuana

By Jeffery Kurz

During a recent trip to California I paid a visit to a cell phone shop to see if I could get my phone’s cracked screen fixed. It was on a late weekday afternoon and there was no one else in the store, situated in one of those endless strip malls, other than the young, genial fellow behind the counter. He was courteous and making an effort to be helpful, which I appreciated, but after a few minutes it became clear that he was stoned.

Now I may have been mistaken but, you know, I’ve been around a while, and even though I considered it not at all a big deal I couldn’t help wondering about the potential diminishing odds — in a giant state like California, or any state, or nation like Canada, where marijuana has been legalized — of getting my phone fixed.

It was just a passing thought, a doubt tossed away almost as quickly as it had arrived. That kind of thing could happen anywhere, even in states where weed remains not cool, but such doubts are part of what legalization opponents here in the Land of Steady Habits are fretting about.

I doubt cell phone repair was on the list of warnings Wallingford’s Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. brought up at a recent rally. Dickinson and others, including state Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, offered some valid warnings about legalizing pot, though some, as in whether it’s a gateway drug, remain open to debate. But it’s not legal at the federal level, and a national study would be welcome.

Yet in Connecticut inexorable appears the push toward legal weed, propelled by the support of a new governor and the pressure of surrounding states and the worry that the longer the delay, the less the revenue opportunity. There are many compelling arguments supporting legalization, but it’s clear that a significant motivation is money, which the state covets.

So it’s likely a matter of when, and not if, you’ll be able to partake of cannabis in the Constitution State without fear of legal repercussions from the state. Like roadway tolls, it’s one of those deals where reason appears to dictate that since everybody else is doing it, sooner or later we will, too.

It’s worth taking the time to talk it over. Once cannabis is stitched into the fabric of the Nutmeg State’s financial fortunes, there will likely be no getting rid of it —  just like income taxes and tolls. Once they’re up, there’s no getting them back down.

I’ve been to California a couple of times since cannabis for recreational use was legalized there, and though my impression — a very unscientific assessment, more of a “vibe,” if you’ll forgive an “Age of Aquarius” way of putting it — is that there’s a casual commitment. That doesn’t mean everybody there does weed, of course, but it does speak of cultural acceptance. That seems essential when it comes to cannabis, and you wonder if Connecticut can get there.

It would be helpful, and interesting, to see the outcome if legalizing weed were put to Connecticut voters in a referendum. That’s the way it got approved in Massachusetts, despite opposition by legislators and the governor, who were then left to follow the will of the people.

Connecticut will have to do it its own way. ”We need to say something about this because we are going to inherit the problems as a community,” Dickinson told a reporter after the Wallingford anti-pot rally.

Legalizing weed is worth supporting, but there’s no rush. The state needs to move deliberately. And if it works out, I remain confident I’ll still be able to get my phone fixed.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at jkurz@record-journal.com, or 203-317-2213.


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