As of yesterday, marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts to possess, consume, and cultivate. Marijuana sales will be a ways down the road in Massachusetts. Massachusetts is the first state on the East Coast to legalize marijuana. Maine voters also approved marijuana legalization on Election Day 2016, however there is a recount effort going on. Once the ridiculous recount is over, and Maine’s Governor signs off on the results, Maine will have to wait 30 days until marijuana is officially legal there.
Because of where Massachusetts is geographically located, the state has a tremendous opportunity to become the marijuana capital of the East Coast. Following the successful votes in Massachusetts, Maine, California, and Nevada, Connecticut’s Governor sounded like he was willing to re-evaluate his stern opposition to marijuana legalization. Per the Hartford Courant:
After Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question legalizing the sale and use of recreational marijuana, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he may have to re-examine his own views on the matter.
“I have never been an advocate of that,” Malloy said Wednesday. “On the other hand, of course, when multiple states move in a direction you have to re-examine your own personal thoughts on the issue. I’m just like anybody else.”
That openness didn’t last long, as Governor Malloy came out this last week with a very hard stance against any attempts to legalize marijuana in Connecticut, stopping just short of saying he will veto any bill that may come across his desk. Also per the Hartford Courant:
“First of all, I think it’s a mistake what Massachusetts has done and other states have done,” Malloy told reporters in Hartford. “I think we should hit the pause button and watch how it works in the region. … I think it’s a mistake.”
He added, “The proposal that passed on the ballot in Massachusetts was written by the people who want to grow and sell marijuana. It’s an entirely different tax package, and quite frankly, will not make the kind of money available to Massachusetts that will be made available in Colorado. … I suspect that the monies that will be generated in Massachusetts will not pay for the programs necessary to treat the people who will become problematic.”
Governor Malloy has used the same wording that marijuana opponents like Kevin Sabet used leading up to the 2012 election in which Colorado and Washington voters approved marijuana legalization. Malloy talks about ‘social costs’ indicating that they will outweigh any benefits from tax dollars generated by a legal marijuana industry. That may have been a ‘what if’ in 2012, but in 2016 that rhetoric is practically a lie at this point.
There is zero proof that marijuana legalization leads to social costs that outweigh the tax dollars generated by a regulated industry, and that doesn’t even take into account the money that is saved from not enforcing marijuana prohibition. Marijuana legalization would do wonders for the State of Connecticut, but it sounds like it may have to wait until Malloy is out of office.