Legal marijuana opponents fear safety issues, increased usage if bill passed

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HARTFORD -

Legal marijuana opponents say there are too many unanswered questions to allow the state to legalize marijuana. Currently, there is a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Connecticut, but only for adults over 21.

Democrats say they have made it a priority this year to pass the bill in 2019. However, they admit they do not yet have enough votes.

Opponents argue that teens would abuse marijuana if it were made legal and attempt to conceal their use with vape pens. In Colorado and Washington state, where recreational pot is legal, teen use has decreased slightly.

Police say they are also concerned about an increase in the number of impaired drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that accidents are up six percent in states with recreational pot. However, there's no proof that marijuana caused the crashes.

"Right now, our colleagues in law enforcement don't have the necessary tools to be able to monitor and to evaluate people in an accurate way when they're driving under the influence of cannabis," says Dr. Deepak Cyril D'Souza, a Yale psychiatrist.

Brian Essenter, who is in favor of legalized marijuana, says it's time to trade fear for scientific facts.

"That's been a big part of the problem with the prohibitionist view for so long, is the fearmongering, the propaganda that's spread and the lack of facts," says Essenter.

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