Opponents of legislation to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use in Connecticut have formed the StopPotCT Coalition to give voice to growing concerns about legalizing another harmful substance that leads to impaired driving and other public safety risks, workplace safety issues, and harmful effects on the health and well-being of children and families.
The Coalition is planning a press conference on Tuesday, March 7 at 9:45 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building in Room 1E in Hartford, just prior to a hearing by the Public Health Committee.
The StopPotCT Coalition was formed in 2016, but gained momentum this year, possibly related to successful legalization efforts in Massachusetts, The coalition is comprised of public health experts, prevention, medical, education and law enforcement professionals, businesses and industry and youth groups.
“Legalizing retail sale of marijuana to raise revenue is like selling the soul of our families, our communities and our state,” said William Hume, one of the founders of the Coalition.
“Our future counts on healthy and thriving young people. In Guilford, we have the Guilford Day Youth Coalition, and I know there are many other groups like them across the state. Let’s give our young people a strong message that we support them to be drug-free.”
“There are many questions and very few answers about the long-term effects of legalizing marijuana on our communities, and community leaders are worried,” said Jill Spineti, president of The Governor’s Prevention Partnership, another founding member of the Coalition.
Several groups in the Coalition are concerned about potential public safety issues, including impaired driving, increases in number of car crashes associated with use of marijuana and other public safety issues.
“On the enforcement side, there are no standards that have been established to determine when someone who used marijuana is capable of driving and there are no tools that law enforcement officers can use to determine levels of THC, like there are for determining blood alcohol level,” said Monroe’s Chief of Police, John Salvatore, who is also president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.
“We are in touch with our fellow officers in states like Colorado and Washington that have already legalized marijuana who warn us that costs associated with enforcement issues, car crashes and the toll on public safety are skyrocketing.”
“There are lives at risk, that’s really what this comes down to,” said Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in greater Hartford. “A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found the number of fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled after Washington State legalized it. Do we really want to increase the number of impaired drivers on Connecticut’s roadways?” AAA has adopted a national policy against the legalization of marijuana specifically because of traffic safety concerns.
The press conference scheduled for next week will include speakers from AAA, CT Construction Industries Association, Guilford Day Youth Coalition, Yale School of Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics and others. Updates will be posted on the Coalition’s Website www.stoppotct.org.
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