Dear Friends and Residents of Our Beautiful District,
As a State Representative, I have an obligation to tackle important issues head-on, explore and consider all relevant points of view, and always “tell it like it is.” Accordingly, I believe the time has come for us as a state to consider legalizing the recreational use of marijuana by adults. I introduced legislation to do exactly that. Here’s why.
We are now witnessing the remarkable and very positive benefits associated from the use of marijuana to aid patients coping with very serious medical conditions. Other states have, or are now considering, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana by adults. One of those states is Massachusetts, which will bring this issue into our backyard. And according to the results of a poll I conducted among residents in the 34th District, 60 percent of respondents favor legalization. More than 300 of those who responded to the survey took the time to comment thoughtfully, one way or the other, on the topic.
Additionally, we have very serious problems across our state associated with opioid, heroin and alcohol abuse. And I think we should focus our energies and limited resources in fighting our most severe problems. I do not believe the recreational use of marijuana by adults meets the severe level of abuse that opiates, heroin or alcohol does. In fact, St. Francis Hospital has embarked on a study that would replace opiate prescriptions with medicinal marijuana. I applaud their efforts.
I am fully aware that the potential use of marijuana by adults brings out passionate points of view. There are very serious issues to consider and debate. Some of the issues I have considered are:
– Ensuring that those under 21 and minors have restricted access, like alcohol.
– Keeping the palliative, medicinal program and the recreational, adult use program separate.
– Maintaining strict enforcement and penalties for driving while “high”.
– Providing a taxing structure that provides revenue for the state and certain municipalities.
– Requiring potential producers and dispensary employees to provide extensive security.
– Assuring education for consumers, including ingestion of edibles and THC levels.
– Providing comprehensive education for young people.
– Regulating home-grown marijuana and limiting the number of plants for personal use.
– Banning the marketing or advertising of marijuana.
– Allowing municipalities to pass ordinances to ban the industry in their communities.
I have spent a significant amount of time contemplating this issue and spent the last few months meeting with folks in other states who have successfully passed legislation allowing the adult, recreational use of marijuana. I support the adult use of marijuana and I also support strict enforcement prohibiting those under 21 from using marijuana. In addition, I have also re-filed a bill I introduced last year, which would mandate reporting from juvenile courts of young drivers who have a marijuana infraction to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
This debate will be a passionate and comprehensive one. In fact, many of my constituents, like you– will be disappointed, even angry, in my advocacy. I want you — and everyone — to know I respect all opinions.
I will spend the next few months continuing the approach I always take — which will require continued listening, research and the will to make tough decisions. Please let me know your additional thoughts or questions. Regardless of where we may stand on this issue and others, I will remain accountable to the residents of East Hampton, East Haddam and Colchester.