As the move for legalizing marijuana continues to gain momentum in several states, Connecticut is highly likely to follow suit, incoming House Speaker Matt Ritter said on Thursday.
Ritter put the chances of state legislatures passing the legalization bill at 50-50, saying a floor vote for the bill is necessary regardless of the outcome.
The House Speaker pointed out that Connecticut will not be able to fortify its borders since cannabis is already legal in neighboring states like New Jersey and Massachusetts, with New York at the final legalization phase.
In neighboring Rhode Island, legislatures presented a legalization bill at a recent heading, and preparations to push for full cannabis legalization in 2021 are already in top gear.
Ritter said Connecticut residents, including people he knows, are already traveling to Massachusetts to purchase legal cannabis and bring it back to the state.
The incoming House Speaker has been a vocal supporter of marijuana reform in Connecticut
During a meeting with the Connecticut Merchant Association this week, he said legalization in the state has a 50-50 chance, but the floor will have a vote regardless.
Senate minority leader, Senator Kevin Kelly, also shared his views on the Thursday meeting. Kelly said Connecticut does not necessarily need to legalize marijuana due to pressure from other neighboring states.
He added that legalizing cannabis should be based on what the people want and what is right for them since the frequent use of legalized cannabis could have serious social repercussions, especially among the youth.
However, recent studies showed that legalization had not caused an increase in teen marijuana use. A report from Colorado in August 2012 concluded that that had been no significant change in cannabis consumption among the youth since legalization.
A more recent report from the CDC published this week indicated that teen marijuana treatment and admissions fell sharply in the states that have legalized the drug.
In the Thursday meeting, Kelly, the Senate GOP leader, said neighboring states who have legalized marijuana were motivated by increased revenue prospects. Legal cannabis industries in those states have invested billions in economic acts and brought millions of dollars in state revenue.
However, citing his observations of racial disparities in marijuana-related arrests, Ritter said Connecticut legalizing cannabis is not about collecting revenue but to right historical wrongs.