HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - A proposal to legalize recreational marijuana was announced during a news conference on Thursday.

General law chair Michael D'Agostino, the Judiciary Committee's Steve Stafstrom and the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee's Jason Rojas held the news conference around 3 p.m.

While they say nothing is set in stone, lawmakers know nearly everyone wants to weigh in, and that's what they want.

The key House of Representatives committee chairs said they are getting behind legislation that would legalize cannabis for recreational use in Connecticut.

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"Right now the political climate in Connecticut is looking very promising to pass this session," said Paul Kirchberg, of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Those who spoke said the proposed bills are working documents.

"Look, legalizing a substance that has been illegal for more than 80 years is a complicated process," said Democratic State Rep. Michael D'Agostino.

The general law, judiciary, and finance committees are working side-by-side approaching the process from every angle.

Together, they divided it into three categories.

"Regulation, decriminalization and monetization," D'Agostino said.

The general law’s drafted bill looks at things like creating a cannabis control commission and licensing.

The judiciary committee filed several bills like looking at decriminalizing and erasing criminal records for having pot up to 1-and-a-half ounces over the age of 21.

This push partly comes on the heels for more revenue for the state.

However, lawmakers aren’t quite ready to release those projections or tax structure until April.

While legislators sort through the details, critics say the industry will mostly profit from young people and kids.

Connecticut Smart’s approach to marijuana said in part “Given our current experiences with the vaping industry, and what we’re seeing in the current legalized states, big marijuana is already and will continue in Connecticut to market marijuana to youth. They will use the social and internet-based platforms to lure kids to their addictive products.”

Next Friday, there will be a public hearing on recreational pot.

Law enforcement weighs in on potential legalization of recreational marijuana

Law enforcement is sounding the alarm when it comes to impaired driving.

Unlike alcohol, it’s not so easy to detect if someone is too high to get behind the wheel.

Right now, state lawmakers say it’s too early to tell how much revenue recreational pot will bring.

But the $64,000 question for police departments?

“How do we know, how do we detect and say, ‘ok, legally you shouldn’t be on the road’,” said Suffield Police Capt. Christopher McKee.

It’s why police department’s like Suffield are asking lawmakers to not compromise safe driving.

Detection is possible with highly trained officers and drug recognition experts.

Far from your basic academy class, training for officers is comprehensive and long.

It’s something legislators are looking at in their bills.

“Also in that bill, we’re providing law enforcement to get drug recognition efforts trained to recognize the signs of driving while impaired,” said Democratic State Rep. Steve Stafstrom.

Such expertise is needed at a time when AAA revealed a poll in 2016 showing young Connecticut drivers are more likely to drive high than drunk.

Even supporters of recreational pot admit the science and technology aren’t there to properly detect.

Some are saying, pass the legislation and work out the details before selling.

“I would be open to holding back to recreational sales only in the need, when it comes to regulation and understanding what we’re getting into,” Kirchberg said.

McKee said it hasn’t seen an uptick in crash rates or arrests for drugs and DUI’s since Massachusetts passed its law.

However, it’s waiting to see the long-term effects.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(4) comments

BobInBpt

If they are going to legalize recreational marijuana, then they better make sure that the prices, including taxes are not double what the street dealers are charging or we will still have a street crime problem with competing drug gangs. The medical marijuana establishments are already charging way more than street dealers plus requiring patients to pay a one hungred dollar registration fee annually. That's not how you compete with illegal drug dealers!

HondasSuck

From my experience, you're comparing street drugs (which are like bud lite) to commercial dispensaries (which are like Treehouse). Most people are willing to pay more for quality. I'm also willing to pay more for safety and convenience.

Will legalizing eliminate the black market entirely? No. Just like there's bootleggers and counterfeit clothing and electronics, it will never be 100% clean.

But the market will eventually normalize especially as more competition enters the scene and the federal government gets on board.

Logicandreason101

I would buy an eighth for $100 from a dispensary than an ounce for $100 from a dealer.

CTMMJPatient

BobinBpt - Not sure where you're coming from. CT mmj prices are much lower than street dealers. There are 1/8ths of fire starting at $23! (https://canna-fill.com/product-category/flowers/)

We have the best program in the country! Please stop spreading lies and misinformation!

Mass rec program taxing folks - $50 1/8ths, and 20% tax = $60 Ouch! :(

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