The War on Marijuana, like the War on Drugs overall, has been a massive failure and injustice. It has led to over-policing, torn apart families and communities, ruined people’s lives, wasted time and money, and acted as a vehicle for racial injustice. The human and financial costs of the War on Marijuana are astronomical.
The ACLU of Connecticut supports S.B. 1085, as this bill to legalize marijuana presents a chance for our state to further honor individual privacy rights, prevent discrimination, and remedy the disparate burdens that marijuana prohibition has placed on youth, communities of color, and poor communities throughout our state. We urge the legislature, however, to strengthen the bill by: including strong mechanisms to remove convictions for marijuana-related offenses from people's criminal records; to eliminate the criminalization of other marijuana-related crimes in conjunction with the legalization of marijuana possession; and to add provisions to establish an office to ensure that marijuana industry revenue is invested in communities that have been most harmed by drug prohibition, and that these communities have access to business licenses, in order to prevent racial disparities from replicating themselves in a legal marijuana industry.
Black and Latino people in Connecticut disproportionately bore the brunt of marijuana criminalization and still disproportionately bear the brunt of citations now. Our state shouldn’t replicate these harms again in legalization. Marijuana legalization must include intentional, built-in racial justice policies, as our state should not leave something as important as racial justice to chance. If Connecticut is going to legalize marijuana, our state should to it right: by investing most in the people and communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs. Connecticut residents deserve more than promises that legalized marijuana will help Black and brown people and communities. We all deserve real, meaningful policy solutions, written into the statute, to guarantee that investment will happen.
The ACLU of Connecticut opposes H.B. 7372, which would rely on unproven methods to enforce criminalization of driving under the influence of marijuana or smoking marijuana while a passenger in a vehicle. Public safety is a legitimate concern when there is suspicion that someone is driving under the influence of drugs. However, House Bill 7372 is not the answer to protecting people driving in our state. The state should not ignore drivers’ civil liberties and open the state up to potential liability by relying on faulty and unproven methods, including the use of drug recognition experts, for testing drivers’ impairment.