Story by Sylvia Cunningham

To support or not to support? That’s the question that faces Connecticut legislators as they consider two bills introduced in the Connecticut General Assembly that would legalize marijuana in the state.

President of UConn Students for Sensible Drug Policy Tyler Williams thinks it’s a no-brainer.

“All the economic models we have show that this is going to be an economic boost to Connecticut,” Williams said.

Williams, who started a petition on change.org, wants the UConn Undergraduate Student Government to pass a statement in support of House Bill 6473, House Bill 6703 and any other efforts to legalize marijuana in the state

“USG is authorized and recognized by the university administration and by the state of the Connecticut as the official representative voice of the undergraduate students of the University of Connecticut,” Williams said.

The way Williams sees it, it’s more than a “yes” or “no” decision for USG. Rather, it’s an opportunity.

“This is a time in history that the Undergraduate Student Government of the University of Connecticut has the ability to come out right on the issue before any other elected body of officials,” Williams said. “They can be the first elected body of officials to get the thing right.”

But where does the UConn community stand on the issue? WHUS reporters polled undergraduate students to ask what they thought of the proposed house bills.

“Most people, at least that I know, tend to agree with this,” said UConn student Keith Robichaud, who is studying computer science and engineering.

“It’s not something that I’ve ever had any interest in really,” said Geoffrey Roy, a senior at UConn, who works for a company with a zero tolerance drug policy. “Plus, with my major and my job for working with the government, I wouldn’t be allowed to anyways.”

“I think marijuana should be legal because of the billions of dollars in revenue it can bring into the state and the millions of dollars it can save the state funding for police,” said one UConn student who is graduating in May.

Whether students directly supported legalization or not, there was one prevailing thought:

“I think the people that are going to smoke marijuana are going to smoke marijuana, and I think the people that aren’t are not gonna,” said UConn sophomore Matt Schenck.

“I feel that people that do smoke will get a hold of it anyways, so it will just be better,” said Christina Tramontanis, a junior majoring in psychology.

“People get it whether it’s legal or illegal, and then if it’s legal, you could tax it,” said student Nick Chapman.

“I don’t think students who normally wouldn’t use it will say ‘yes, now I’m going to use it,’” said a UConn nursing student who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I think it will stay more or less the same.”

Williams will deliver a presentation to the UConn Undergraduate Student Government on March 4.

“I don’t think we’re asking for USG to move mountains for this legislation. We’re asking for USG to come out and make a statement of position that they know is representative of student voice,” Williams said. “We’re trying to facilitate that process. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

This piece was made possible by contributions from WHUS News Reporters Danielle Chaloux, Alyssa Davanzo, Reid DiRenzo, John Ewen, Alyssa Hughes, Kyle Huson, Kevin Korza, Mairead Loschi and Chloe Vincente.

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