As Connecticut attempts to join the ranks of legal Cannabis states and lawmakers work to amend Gov. Ned Lamont’s adult-use bill to include stronger social equity programs, clergy members are making their voices heard. Their message? Just say no.
Just as legalization was on a positive track in Connecticut and lawmakers expressed optimism that a bill would advance, a number of prominent religious leaders have asked the governor and legislators to abandon all dope.
Seven Christian clergy members and an Islamic leader held a press conference to express their opposition to legalization.
Archbishop Leonard Blair claimed that ending prohibition “does nothing … to benefit the common good of our state and its people. In the pursuit of money, the well-being of our neighbors has been discounted.”
One could argue that simply ending arrests for Cannabis would “benefit the common good” – as the criminal justice system tends to leave significant psychological scars and criminal records make it difficult to find employment, housing and other benefits.
But beyond that, a good adult-use Cannabis bill would encourage entry to a lucrative industry for equity applicants, it would expunge criminal records for past marijuana offenses and reinvest money in communities that have suffered greatly under the war on marijuana. Not to mention the job creation and revitalization that come along with legal Cannabis businesses.
Rev. Theodore Brooks of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World was thinking of the children. “In Black and brown communities, we are going to have legalized pot stores open up and our children are going to be affected by this. We cannot allow this to happen,’’ Brooks noted. “This notion of legalized pot, it doesn’t make sense.”
While Rep. Josh Elliott, a sponsor of the adult-use bill, explained that municipalities would have the final say over whether a pot shop opened in their jurisdiction, it did little to win over the assembled clergy.
One can only hope that when Connecticut moves forward and enacts meaningful marijuana-law reform, the clergy members turn the other cheek.