CHRIS POWELL: Legalizing marijuana is easy; what's hard is the patronage

Published on Monday, 14 June 2021 20:35
Written by Chris Powell

Legalizing recreational marijuana in Connecticut is off until a special session of the General Assembly this week, with House Speaker Matt Ritter, a Democrat, blaming the Republican minority for stalling passage during the regular session just concluded. The Republicans, Ritter said, planned to talk the legislation to death in the session's last hours, obstructing other business.

Ritter's criticism was unfair, since the marijuana legislation is complicated, controversial, and nearly 300 pages long. It had been approved only narrowly in the Senate, and rushing its consideration in the House on the eve of adjournment would have prevented understanding. Had the Democratic leaders been better organized, the bill might have been resolved weeks ago.

Complication is the big problem with the marijuana bill. Originally its premises were that marijuana is already pervasive in the state, that it is not so dangerous, and that criminal penalties for it have been weakened and are seldom enforced. But then legislators began scheming to turn the legislation into a source of tax revenue and political patronage. That caused most of the complication and controversy.

The issue could have and still could be handled simply. All that is needed is repeal of the criminal statutes involving marijuana – no licensing (that is, no patronage) and no regulations about the drug's intoxicating component, just acceptance of the current situation. Driving while intoxicated will remain a crime, as will sales tax evasion. If any stores openly sell the drug, risking, however slightly, federal prosecution, they will be obliged to collect the ordinary sales tax and forward it to state government.

Such simple repeal of the state's criminal law would also avoid any attempt at nullifying federal law, which licensing would be.

Even supporters of licensing, regulating, and special taxing of marijuana admit that those things might keep most trade in the drug underground.

Awash in federal money, Connecticut doesn't need the relative pittance projected from putting state government into the marijuana business. Since there is also plenty of patronage in that federal money, Connecticut doesn't need marijuana patronage either. So the legislature should just repeal a criminal law that is hardly being enforced anyway and leave it at that.

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THE LEWIS-PRESCOTT GANG: Since no nooses had been found lately at the Amazon warehouse under construction in Windsor, last week the noose fetishists contrived a new way of getting attention and distracting from the murders all around them in the minority community – they openly carried guns to their protest at the construction site.

One of them, Hartford's Cornell Lewis, explained why: to threaten and intimidate. Lewis said, "We're out here today with our weapons on full display – legally – embracing our Second Amendment rights to let Amazon know that we're not going to put up with this kind of stuff."

Manchester's Keren Prescott, founder of the PowerUp CT organization, reveled in this gangsterism. "There is nothing like Black people exercising their Second Amendment right to get folks moving," Prescott said. "We are tired of being nice."

That is, the Lewis-Prescott gang is tired of being civilized. Displaying guns was their way of conveying the old gangster message: "Nice little place you have here. Shame if something should happen to it."

Until lately Connecticut had avoided gangsters in political controversies. Now that the race mongers have added guns to their bullying, will those in authority stand up to them?

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FONFARA'S FEVER: Connecticut's new state budget will bestow huge new appropriations on the cities, where most of the state's racial minority population lives. But even as he voted for the budget, state Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, denounced it as "status quo" and "a knee on the neck of the Black community and other underserved communities."

Yes, since throwing more money at the cities without ever achieving improvement is only what state government long has been doing, the budget can be considered "status quo." But "a knee on the neck of the Black community" it is not.

Fonfara is white and his fevered bloviating suggests that he has either lost his mind or fears a primary challenge from a minority candidate.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Monday, 14 June 2021 20:35. Updated: Monday, 14 June 2021 20:38.