Gov. Ned Lamont’s recent budget plan promoted marijuana and sports gambling as potential new revenue sources. These two issues have been the subjects of debate in Connecticut for several years. Although the concerns of critics and inevitable implementation obstacles must be acknowledged, we should not wait any longer to pass legislation while neighboring states continue to move forward.
The geography of the Northeast allows for quick travel through multiple states on a short car ride. Within an hour, a Hartford area resident can purchase legal marijuana in Massachusetts while a gambler in Fairfield County can wager on sports in New Jersey. There is risk in watching residents establish routines that involve spending money in other states while Connecticut methodically irons out details.
Less than a decade ago, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana sales. In the following years, states across the country followed with successful ballot initiatives. Traditionally conservative states like South Dakota and Montana joined the growing list in 2020.
Recently, the legislative process has become a realistic avenue for legalization which has led to a growing number of states passing or proposing legislation. As of early 2021, 15 states have already legalized recreational marijuana.
Critics of marijuana legalization initially warned of large increases in drug tourism, usage rates, teenage access, criminal behavior, and traffic accidents. Admittedly, research on some of these measures has been mixed so far, but the frightening doomsday predictions have not come true.
The expansion of regulated sports gambling has progressed at an even faster pace than marijuana following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 overturn of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. About 20