Faith leaders lobby against legalizing marijuana sales in CT
Religious leaders headed to the state Capitol Monday to warn lawmakers about legalizing marijuana sales in Connecticut.
This year, Connecticut could finally green light marijuana sales. Gov. Ned Lamont says it's time.
"This has been a long time coming. We've been talking about this for ages," he says.
Faith leaders say the lure of easy money and easy jobs are empty promises.
"This is just a terrible idea for the state of Connecticut," says Pastor Abraham Hernandez, of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
"It is not going to create the kind of jobs our people need to be able to sustain themselves," says Bishop Theodore Brooks, of the Beulah Heights First Pentecostal Church.
A new Sacred Heart poll shows almost 70% of state residents support marijuana sales. Nearly half, though, think it will lead to a significant increase in impaired driving.
Critics think inner city neighborhoods will be overrun with cannabis dispensaries.
"In our communities, we have more liquor stores than anywhere else," says Brooks.
Lamont's bill only lets equity applicants sell marijuana until 2024. That includes those convicted of marijuana charges in the past.
Their records could also be wiped clean.
"Right now, too many Connecticut residents - too many of our constituents - purchase cannabis on an illicit and on an illegal market. And when they do so, they're consuming an unregulated substance," says state Sen. Will Haskell.
Religious leaders had a stern warning for lawmakers who don't stop the bill.
"If they don't do that, they'll show how racist our state is, and they'll continue to do the things that have kept us, as a people alright, from advancing in our communities," says Pastor William McCullough, of Russell Temple CME Church.
Lamont and top lawmakers in Hartford are still negotiating a final marijuana bill.