NEW CANAAN - Opinions may differ on the topic of legalizing recreational marijuana, but at least one local trial attorney strongly believes it's imminent in Connecticut.
Matthew Maddox, a local activist who helped start the drug awareness group Ram Council at New Canaan High School, spoke May 18 night at the New Canaan Library. In the program, "Weed in the Next Station to Heaven," Maddox talked on the subject of marijuana from a variety of angles, including legal, medical, social and financial. "In my opinion this is not a for-or-against topic," he said, stressing everyone needed to keep an open mind about it regarding their opinions. "It's too complicated."
Citing the financial success of Colorado's decision to legalize its recreational use, which has resulted in over $40 million in tax revenue, Maddox said that given Connecticut's current financial struggles, it was likely state lawmakers would move soon to make it a reality here, as well. "Connecticut could potentially realize tax revenue of $55 million," he said, noting in Colorado its legalization drove its prices down, thereby decreasing the black market and related opportunities for young people to buy it.
Yet while he concluded the revenue attraction is "overwhelming," he also said there has so far been a failure to look at the long-term effects of legalized recreational use. Maddox said the peripheral costs of alcohol use in terms of accidents and medical issues "are absolutely staggering." Still, he noted there remains a great deal of contradictory evidence being presented from all quarters, including the marijuana lobby.
Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington, but this technically runs counter to federal law. Maddox explained U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a memo stating the federal government didn't intend to intervene on the legalization in those states, but legally this is no guarantee the federal view could change at any time.
Along with conflicting practices of legislating recreational use, it's still not entirely clear what constitutes appropriate medical marijuana use, at least in Connecticut. "I'm not advocating whether marijuana is medicinal or not," Maddox said, "but I will tell you ... we've got some real room for interpretation here."
"I thought it was really interesting," parent Gaby Beecher, of New Canaan, said of the talk. "I think this is a really timely topic. I'll be interested to see how the state goes. "We're not in a great fiscal condition," she said, "and I think there's a lot of temptation there.
Article originally appeared on New Canaan News