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Wallingford coalition protests I-91 billboard advertising marijuana

Wallingford coalition protests I-91 billboard advertising marijuana

By Jeniece Roman

Record-Journal staff 

NORTH HAVEN — Members of the Coalition for a Better Wallingford gathered on Route 5 Saturday to protest a billboard on Interstate 91 that advertises legal marijuana.

The billboard reads “Weed is legal in 60 miles,” which refers to the distance from the sign to Massachusetts, where recreational marijuana is legally sold. The billboard is funded by Weedmaps, a mobile app that allows users to identify locations where marijuana is legally sold.

Ken Welch, president of the Coalition for a Better Wallingford, said he believes that the sign will entice Connecticut residents to buy the substance in another state and bring it across state lines.

“The inference is that they’re going to buy this stuff and bring it back,” Welch said.

About 15 coalition members and supporters stood outside 355 Washington Ave., the location of the billboard company Outfront Media, waving signs with a message against the advertising marijuana, which is illegal in Connecticut except for medical use. Throughout the protest passing cars honked their horns in support.

Welch said information about the protest was posted to coalition’s Facebook page, spurring negative and positive comments. He said while protesting he witnessed a man drive up, roll down his window and yell expletives at the group.

“I don’t understand the anger,” Welch said. 

Seymour resident Cody Roberts and two others staged a small counter protest on behalf of Connecticut Normal, a local group dedicated to the legalization of marijuana. 

“We’re going to have legalization (in Connecticut) it’s inevitable,” Roberts said. “We’re just need to make sure we have equity involved, that’s why I’m here trying to get the word out.”

Welch said he believes more research is needed before recreational marijuana is made legal in Connecticut. But on Saturday the issue was the advertising of an illegal drug so prominently. 

“The goal is to get the sign down,” Walsh said. “To wake up our legislators so we can get some rules in place that don’t allow that kind of advertising.”