HARTFORD: While Advocates for legalization of recreational use of Marijuana in Connecticut cite economic benefit to the state an anti-legalization group, argues legalization will cost Connecticut money and have a significant impact on quality of life issues.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana [SAM], in conjunction with the Connecticut chapter of SAM (CT-SAM), released a what it calls a “comprehensive report” that projects legalization would cost the state $216 million, adding “far outweighing even the rosiest tax projections.”
"Everyone likes to talk about the assumed revenue that marijuana legalization would bring to a state, but no one likes to discuss the costs affiliated with such policy measures," said Kevin A. Sabet, a former Obama Administration drug policy adviser who is now head of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). "This report will hopefully give lawmakers in Connecticut reason to pause and consider the implications of such policies."
CT SAM was formed in response to the Connecticut legislature passing a medical marijuana law in 2012. CT SAM spokesperson Bo Huhn said, "Both state and national data demonstrate that our kids have increased access to marijuana as a result of laws allowing legal marijuana in our communities. And with the latest research on marijuana demonstrating the cognitive and social, emotional and psychological damage to the developing adolescent brain, we should be concerned! This new SAM report, using data from our own CT Office of Fiscal Analysis, demonstrates that CT taxpayers and businesses will bear the ensuing financial burden of this misguided policy in which costs will far outweigh any income."
- Administrative and enforcement costs for regulators
- Increased drugged-driving fatalities
- Increased drugged-driving injuries
- Increased property damage to vehicles related to drugged driving
- Short-term health costs
- More emergency room visits for marijuana poisonings
- Injuries from marijuana-concentrate extraction lab explosions/fires
- Increased rates of homelessness
- Workplace costs
- Increased absenteeism
- More workplace accidents among full-time employees
The report uses data from states like Colorado and figures from Connecticut Office of Fiscal Analysis. According to the report, marijuana legalization costs would "exceed, by more than 90 percent, the maximum projected official revenue estimate of $113.6 million for the third year of the proposed legalization program."
Sam’s advisory board is made up a significant number of physicians and researchers geared to pediatrics and addiction including: Dr. Hoover Adger Professor of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Director of Adolescent Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. A. Eden Evins, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Addiction Medicine and the Addiction Research Program of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Also an advisor is Patrick Kennedy a former Congressman from Rhode Island who has discussed his own drug addiction issues.
Deepak Cyril D' Souza, MD, MBBS, Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, was quoted in a release by the organization as saying, "by legalizing cannabis in Connecticut, we will undoubtedly see an increase in adolescent cannabis use with many negative consequences years later. Is this what we want for our children and future adults?"
An extensive report by the organization on effects in Colorado cite a large number of cannabis retail facilities in minority neighborhoods, an increase in alcohol consumption, employee absenteeism, and an increased use of marijuana by teens. That report cites a 7.7% current use by teens in Connecticut and 12.6% of teens using marijuana in Colorado, the highest in the nation.
The organization says, adolescents who start using cannabis are more prone to a number of negative outcomes including lower IQ, memory and attentional problems that persist even if they stop using cannabis. Currently, rates among 12-17-year-olds are among the highest levels nationally in states that have legalized some form of marijuana.
Sabet added: "Marijuana legalization will lead to a new version of a Big Tobacco industry dedicated to profits that will increase addiction and undermine our youth and the vulnerable."