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Monday, November 20 Opinion

Timothy Vartuli op-ed: Debunking myths about marijuana

I would like to inform you that The Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana has worked hard this year to educate our public and our legislators about marijuana and the injustice of the laws that surround it. This year, Connecticut has proposed four bills that would allow legal and regulated marijuana sales. We could join the eight other states who have already legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Please do not be alarmed by the word “marijuana.”

Marijuana has been around for millennia, and only in recent history has it been taught that it’s an “evil” plant that leads to violence and crime. Today’s marijuana laws are unjust because of the propaganda surrounding the plant. A person who wants to stay home and get high shouldn’t be called a criminal.

The prohibition has been ineffective; a huge waste of taxpayer money. Marijuana is still prevalent and widely available.

Less than 10 percent of marijuana users go on to try harder drugs; this statistic debunks the “gateway drug” theory.

In many states where medical marijuana is legal, opioid abuse has dropped significantly.

Restricting sales from teenagers until they are at least 21 years of age, along with proper and factual marijuana-education in public schools, would reduce youth drug use.

Marijuana alone accounts for less than 10 percent of car-crash related fatalities, even in states where it is legal. Alcohol accounts for 31 percent, and cell phone use accounts for 16 percent. In Colorado, a legal state, DUIs have decreased by 33 percent the first quarter of 2017. There is no reason to believe that legalizing it would make our roads more dangerous.

With marijuana in a legal regulated market, along with proper and factual marijuana-education incorporated in our high schools, our society could reduce drug abuse, cut down youth drug use, shrink the illicit drug market, and improve our economy.

The positive impacts of legalization outweigh the negative. Continuing to support the prohibition is stubbornness and ignorance. Marijuana is not evil, and will never disappear. Knowing this, it is a better idea to regulate and tax it.

Regulating it could produce 19,000 jobs in this state, and $100 million a year in tax revenue.

Basically, you can do either of the following:

1.) Do nothing, and allow the marijuana prohibition to continue, despite its failure and ineffectiveness; fuel the illicit drug market, expose people to the risk, grant teenagers easy access to pot, continue the injustices, waste millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and keep the public ignorant about marijuana.

Or:

2.) Get involved! Call your state senator and your state representative and urge them to support changing marijuana laws.

Do not skip over calling, your voice is needed to make change happen!

Timothy Vartuli is a Stamford resident.

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