Is Decriminalization of Marijuana Enough?
The debate over the legalization of marijuana is heating up in Connecticut. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle argued at a legislative hearing that the legalization of recreational marijuana would effectively dismantle the illegal market for cannabis. Among other things argued, advocates of legalization laid out several benefits including:
- Ending unnecessary arrests of people for possession of marijuana;
- Bring in millions of dollars in tax revenue to the state;
- Creation of a new job market; and
- Bolstering of tourism market.
Possession of small amounts of marijuana has already been decriminalized in Connecticut. Advocates of legalization say that not regulating marijuana is tantamount to subsidizing the illegal market that fosters violence and additional criminal behavior. David L. Nathan, a psychiatrist and faculty member at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said, “I’ve seen too many cases of lives ruined by marijuana not by the drug itself, but by a justice system that chooses a sledgehammer to kill a weed.”
If Legalizing Pot Has So Many Benefits, Why Are There Opponents?
Opponents of legalizing marijuana argue that marijuana is an addictive drug and that it should not be legal. Other opponents allege that decriminalization is enough and the additional step of full legalization is one step too far. It has also been argued that full legalization will lead to increased drug use by the youth of our state.
What Is the Difference Between Legalization and Decriminalization?
When an activity is decriminalized, it has the legal effect of minimizing the punishment for crimes associated with the activity. The activity, in this case the marijuana, is still prohibited by state law but the enforcement and penalties are not as substantial. For example, in a zero-tolerance state, mere possession may be enough to get you jail time. In states like Connecticut that have decriminalized the drug, it takes a certain amount to trigger enforcement of the marijuana law.
One of the biggest differences between legalization and decriminalization is the available revenue. State governments cannot tax a drug or activity that has been decriminalized. Which means that for Connecticut to start regulating and taxing marijuana to generate statewide revenue the legislature will have to fully legalize marijuana.
Been Charged With Possession?
Even though the possession of cannabis has been decriminalized in Connecticut, being arrested and charged with possession of any controlled substance is a very serious crime. The consequences can be far reaching and life altering. Do not go through a criminal charge alone. Contact a skilled Norwalk CT criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner at 203-348-5846 to schedule your free consultation.