WESTPORT, Conn. — News that a New Jersey state senator introduced a bill on Monday proposing the legalization and taxation of marijuana sparked conversation in Westport.
Connecticut approved legislation legalizing medical marijuana in May 2012 and is preparing to open dispensaries across the state. Legalizing marijuana altogether, and then taxing and regulating it, is the next logical step to take, said Staples High School sophomore Brandon Rakowski.
“The money that’s spent trying to enforce current policy, it doesn’t work,” Rakowski said. “Marijuana is as common now as alcohol. Regulation is a better approach if you want to keep it out of the hands of kids.”
The three biggest issues with marijuana, he said, are: easy access, concerns over buying a laced/altered product, and it’s reputation as a “gateway” drug, based on the fact that the person selling it more than likely sells other drugs.
The most effective way to solve these issues, Rakowski said, would be through legalization and regulation. Staples senior Christopher McKinney agreed, saying regulation would add additional safety measures and cautions to users.
“Government regulation would reduce the amount of marijuana that’s out there and make it easier to control,” McKinney said. “It would also make it safer. Not only would marijuana only be available from approved sellers, the government isn’t going to allow the production of marijuana laced with other substances.”
Brandon Campbell, a senior at Fairfield Warde High School, said he believes marijuana should be treated the same as cigarettes. Not only would this protect users, taxing it would be a deterrent for some, he said.
Finally, all three agreed that the regulation and taxation of marijuana would be beneficial for the state in that it would raise revenue.
“The state could then turn around and put that money into schools and programs for kids,” Rakowski said.