HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - A large group of community leaders urged state lawmakers to pass legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Connecticut.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, clergy members and other advocates showed their support for it.

A news conference happened at noon on Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

The group said it supports the legalizing, regulating and taxing of cannabis for adult use.

Three marijuana bills have passed committees so far.

The state House of Representatives and Senate said they intend to merge the proposals into one.

If the General Assembly passes that, Gov. Ned Lamont said he would sign it.

"If this legislature passes any policy that addresses the legalization of cannabis, we want to be a part of the conversation and equity to be a part of that," said Democratic State Rep. Brandon McGee.

Democrats like McGee want distressed cities to benefit from recreational marijuana.

One of the proposals would give revenue to urban areas, and would also give people in those cities financial help to get a license to sell.

The group CT Coalition to Regulate Marijuana also wants to see records expunged for those convicted of marijuana crimes.

It's a lot for lawmakers to consider, on top of the social issues with legalized marijuana.

"The information we are getting from the medical community is telling us we really need to slow roll this because once you make the decision, its hard to put the genie back in the bottle," said Republican State Rep. Vinnie Candelora.

While some studies from Colorado show an increase in crime and impaired driving due to legalized marijuana, others say some states are seeing a decrease in crime and use among teenagers.

"It's important we know the facts and the science of this plant, really understand how it works and look at what's happening. Research is happening everyday," said Kebra Smith-Bolden.

She owns a company that evaluates people for medical marijuana. If lawmakers expand its use, she and other commercial businesses stand to profit.

While Massachusetts has legalized recreational marijuana, other neighboring states are pulling back.

New York and New Jersey both want to hold off and get more information before passing any legislation.

On Wednesday, the House speaker said recreational marijuana could be taken up in a special session.

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

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