OPINION: How will Connecticut police react to legalized pot in Massachusetts?

OPINION: How will Connecticut police react to legalized pot in Massachusetts?

There was a time in my life when I would have been shocked to learn of any legal acceptance of recreational marijuana use. But time marches on, and general acceptance now looks all but inevitable. Whether or not this is a good thing remains open to debate, but the challenges and uncertainty as society works through this should probably not come as a surprise.

Medical marijuana is legal in Connecticut, as it is in many other states, but there have been difficulties. A federal judge ruled last month that a nursing home violated the state’s medical marijuana law by taking back a job offer after a worker’s drug test came back positive. 

“The Connecticut decision,” reported the Associated Press, “was the first ruling of its kind in a federal case and followed similar recent rulings against employers by state courts in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.” Other rulings had gone against marijuana users in employment cases. Those who support marijuana use see the recent ruling as a sign of growing acceptance.

Acceptance may be growing, but uncertainty remains. Southington has wrestled with applications for medical use dispensaries, while Wallingford has skirted the issue by noting that cannabis is illegal at the federal level.

So it’s been a bumpy ride, even for medical use. When it comes to recreational pot, the ride is about to get a lot more bumpy.

While marijuana for medical purposes is legal in the Nutmeg State, cannabis for recreational use is not. But just a few miles north from where I am writing these words, marijuana for recreational use is legal and sales are about to begin, perhaps in less than a couple of weeks.

It’s worth pointing out what everybody already knows, which is that the states in New England are a lot closer together than they are in other regions of the nation where recreational marijuana has been legalized, like California and Colorado. People in Connecticut think not much at all about driving from one end of the state to the other, or all around the Northeast for that matter. It seems inevitable that the casual nature of this travel, coupled with what will surely become the casual nature of marijuana use in the Bay State, will lead to issues in the Constitution State.

While there has been support, there has not been enough legislative momentum to legalize recreational use in Connecticut. In Massachusetts, pot was legalized by voters, leaving government to figure out how to make it work. That process has taken time. While retail sales were to start at the beginning of this year, only now (or about now) are businesses expected to open. The AP notes that one of the first businesses to start public sales, called Cultivate, is in a suburb of Worcester, just about 25 miles from the Connecticut border.

Fasten your seat belts.

Police in Connecticut are responding in the way you’d expect, by assuring the public they will do their duty. “Despite what the laws may be in any surrounding state, once an individual enters Connecticut they must adhere to Connecticut state laws,” said Trooper Josue J. Dorelus. State police stopped short of telling the AP whether there will be increased enforcement at the border. 

We’ll see how this works out. And it’s coming, just around the corner.

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


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