By Charlie Smart
The debate over marijuana prohibition has seen a dramatic shift in recent years with four states legalizing the drug for recreational use and many more, including Connecticut, decriminalizing it and making it available for medical use. Early last month, two bills were introduced in the Connecticut general assembly that aim to make marijuana legal for adults in this state.
Wednesday night at UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government caucus, President of UConn Students for Sensible Drug Policy Tyler Williams gave a speech to try and persuade USG senators to officially support the legalization of cannabis in Connecticut by passing a statement of position in support of these two bills. He said to the student senators that, “many students here are asking that you folks [the USG] come out in favor of the efforts to legalize cannabis.”
Williams began his speech by explaining the benefits of marijuana legalization including better use of police resources and increased tax revenue for the state. He cited the success of similar legislation in Colorado where the state made over 67 million dollars in the first eleven months of legal sales from tax and revenue.
Many senators had questions ranging from broad uncertainty about the merits of legalizing cannabis to specific problems with the wording of the USG bill. One line in particular, which discussed how the legalization of marijuana could free police resources to deal with other issues such as violent crime and sexual assault drew controversy from several senators who did not feel as though they could support what they considered to be such a broad and unfounded claim.
Eliza Conrad, the Husky Village Residential Senator and USG Parliamentarian, said that she wouldn’t be comfortable supporting the current legislation unless the police went on record saying that legalization would truly impact their ability to fight other crime on campus.
Tyler was receptive to such criticisms and offered to work with senators to reword the bill before it is put to a vote next Wednesday. Still though, Conrad said that even if this section of the legislation were reworked, she doesn’t think it would be a good idea for the USG to support it.
She said that even though a statement of position in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana was passed in 2011 she does not think that this legislation would be a smart move for the current senate.
The senate will vote on whether or not to pass the statement of position at next Wednesday’s meeting.