As if Connecticut didnâ€™t already have enough reasons to resist the temptation to legalize - and tax - recreational marijuana sales, the Pew Charitable Trusts offered another this week. As reported by the Connecticut Mirror in the Aug. 20 Republican-American, states that have taken this step have found the flow of money into their coffers to be erratic at best.
Connecticut lawmakers consider legalizing the drug and slapping a tax on it every year. The pressure to proceed grew more urgent this year after neighboring Massachusetts took the plunge. But Connecticut lawmakers remain skeptical. They realize the state already relies on deeply unstable cash flows from quarterly income-tax filings and revenue sharing with casinos.
â€śThere are a lot of revenue sources in the state of Connecticut that have a lot of volatility to them, and it has taken me a decade of working with the legislature to get people to realize the money will fluctuate from year to year,â€ť said Rep. Vincent J. Candelora, R-North Branford.
In a state with a history of balanced budgets and consistent, stable tax receipts, adding an unpredictable revenue stream would make sense. The state would have the luxury of using the additional money for secondary needs or putting it aside for a rainy day. But Connecticut, with a history of volatile revenue flows and projected budget deficits, doesnâ€™t come close to clearing that bar.
Of course, thatâ€™s just one of many reasons to let other states dabble in psychoactive drugs. A list of inevitabilities that appeared on this page in May included increased car crashes and industrial accidents; family breakups and other social problems; the potential for increased use of the drug by teenagers; and â€śperhaps worst of all, a growing population of people who go through life impaired - never able to contribute meaningfully to the social order; always coming up short of the capabilities they were born with.â€ť
The jury remains out on the impacts of legalization in terms of public safety, health, and marijuanaâ€™s role as a gateway to more dangerous substances. Also unknown are the long-term effects of todayâ€™s marijuana, which is many times as potent as the pot that was available in the past.
People with certain medical or psychological conditions may benefit from using marijuana or derivative products. They can acquire the drug legally for medicinal purposes. For everyone else, the central question should be: Will using this drug make me smarter or more capable? Or will it diminish my intellectual powers, in the short term as well as the long term?
Thus far, the Connecticut legislature has delivered the right answer to its constituents. May it continue to resist the lure of new, albeit unreliable, streams of tax revenue.