Black communities will lose most from legalizing recreational pot

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If Connecticut legalizes recreational marijuana, it is the black community that will suffer most.

I understand that lawmakers are facing massive budget shortfalls, and naturally want to find a way to generate more revenue.

But when it comes to marijuana, we have to weigh the potential profit against the victimization that drugs target.

The cost in this case is our safety, the health of our children, and our efforts to fight addiction and mental health struggles. These costs will be felt across our state, but the pain will be strongest within black communities.

Our communities have a history of facing greater challenges. We see large achievement gaps when it comes to education. We struggle to address mental health and substance abuse. And while increased funding often goes to our cities, it doesn’t always make it into our communities and classrooms. Money isn’t always the answer either, especially when it comes to marijuana. The more marijuana sold may mean the higher the profits, but it also means more users, more abuse, more danger, more distraction for our youth, more addiction, and the list goes on. In Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, the state spends $4.57 for every $1 in marijuana tax revenue to pay for the services needed to combat marijuana’s effects.

For generations we have struggled to address the societal issues caused by drug use in our communities. Encouraging the use of drugs will not bring us any closer to resolving those issues. It will not end the pain of addiction. It will not end the illegal drug sales that will occur to compete with the state-run market.  It will not end the violence our children experience and the danger on our roadways or on our street corners. It may make the state richer in the short term, but will also make problems in our community worse. Even if that money comes to our cities, it could never pay our families for the harm to our children and the community that legalization will cause.

Yet at the State Capitol, in a rush to get support from legislators in our cities, lawmakers are proposing what they see as incentives for legalization. For example, in exchange for marijuana legalization, we’ve heard about proposals to wipe records clean for those convicted of drug crimes. We’ve seen proposals to encourage people to set up marijuana dispensaries in our cities. And we’ve seen proposals that give those responsible for spreading drugs in our communities, the same people convicted of crimes that often involve violence, a leg up by allowing them preferential treatment to get licenses to sell marijuana before everyone else.

While these “carrots” – as some may view them – have been offered, the end result is more drugs in our cities. More addiction, more safety threats, more problems.

Jesus was sold out by Judas in exchange for thirty pieces of silver.  What will be Connecticut’s price?

Whatever it is, our communities will be the ones paying.


Rev. Bruce V. Morris


The writer is Associate Minister at Macedonia Church, and a former state representative for Norwalk’s 140th district, which includes South Norwalk.



AL May 5, 2019 at 8:43 am

Hartford,and pro-legalization supporters, will say and do anything to achieve their goals be it pot or tolls.

David May 5, 2019 at 8:56 am

While I do support the legalization of pot and I’m in the non-smoker category for marijuana and for the most part have quit smoking cigarettes I do find that effects of keeping this drug illegal massively outweigh the benefits on just incarceration rate alone I do think if they do legalize it it should be taxable at a town level not a state level allowing most of the funds generated we spent in communities where the taxes collected hopefully on education I cannot and do not trust the state to spend money wisely at least the town government has to listen to me even if they don’t react I don’t think a single one of my representatives in Hartford cares about a single word from any of their constituents

Mitch Adis May 5, 2019 at 9:43 am

What Morris didn’t say was Colorado was spending the equivalent of $4.57 before legalization. So, the difference now may be they are getting at least a dollar back that they didn’t get before. Factor in the reduced burden on the jail system. This is similar to prohibition and will seem ridiculous in the future.

Isabelle Hargrove May 5, 2019 at 10:22 am

Reverend Morris, I agree 100% with you. We are so desperate for revenues that we refuse to look at the evidence provided by other states who have legalized marijuana. The unintended consequences far overweight the increased Revenues. It does not eliminate the black market because taxes and regulations will still make the product much more expensive than on the streets. So young and poor people won’t be helped. But of course well-heeled users will now have a way to buy designer pot without facing the unsavory street transactions. Also a recent All Things Considered podcast addressed the problem of dispensary ownership in Massachusetts and how the mandate for a high percentage of ownership for minorities never became a reality because of some of the other obstacles. As always government is much better at professing social justice than actually implementing it.

Chris Redfield May 5, 2019 at 10:52 am

Let’s ban alcohol too! Oh wait, didn’t something bad happen when we did that?

ulosewhenuwait May 5, 2019 at 10:59 am

That’s a terrible argument. Remember prohibition? How did that work out? We can drink anything we want and look how many people die each year. So how is marijuana any different? The war on drugs failed because it’s illogical.

Piberman May 5, 2019 at 11:21 am

CT’s Legislature hasn’t shown much interest in bringing major investment and good jobs to our major depressed cities where the majority of CT’s blacks live. Bridgeport’s per capita income is just $21k or less than one-half CT’s. Just 18% of Bridgeport adults have a college degree. (US Census Quick Facts).
Reportedly the disparity between white incomes and black incomes in CT is the greatest in the nation.
That won’t change until some interest in shown in revitalizing our major depressed cities. Given our State’s decade long stagnant economy the prospects for our depressed cities are disheartening.

Rusty Guardrail May 5, 2019 at 11:50 am

Cannabis should never have been illegal. The laws are ridiculous.

The only way that its use leads to other drugs is that kids immediately realize that pot isn’t the bogeyman after all, and then consequently assume that warnings about truly dangerous substances (heroin, meth, cocaine and such) are equally false.

Federal law classifies cannabis as a Class A narcotic with “no medical benefit”, but practically any doctor will state otherwise.

Alcohol use, an accepted integral part of U,S, culture causes disasters large and small on a daily basis in every corner of American life.

Reliable cannabis studies are few, because legitimate experimenters’ access to the substance is severely impeded by legal red tape,

We have no prohibition of fat-and-sugar-laden junk food having no nutritional value. Death-dealing cigarettes are freely available to all, age limits notwithstanding.

Getting stoned on pot interferes with most serious pursuits. It has its proper time and place, like anything else. Prohibition encourages irresponsible, illicit use.

Al Bore May 5, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Pot should be illegal and nothing good can come from making it legal. The bad will far out weigh any good if good is at all possible to have making it legal. What government needs to concentrate on and figure out is how to be fiscally responsible. CT residents are already heavily tax burdened because of reckless government spending. Cut state spending on things like pensions, six figure salaries, and health benefits for life, run the state like a business that is failing it’s share holders (the taxpayers). No matter how much we give it will never be enough. This is the same problem here locally in Norwalk and we need to do all the same as above.

Rusty Guardrail May 5, 2019 at 4:25 pm

“Pot should be illegal and nothing good can come from making it legal. The bad will far out weigh any good if good is at all possible to have making it legal”

What is your basis for this erroneous statement?

Jim McGuire May 5, 2019 at 6:09 pm

This is a very interesting topic (thanks Nancy for carrying it) and it is worthy of a LOT of debate in the public square. The Rev. Morris raises some interesting points, and I am going to assume he is closer to the subject than many others when it relates to the audience he mentions. As other commentators have pointed out, the impact in different communities across CT and Norwalk will be just that: different.

My two cents, intended to drive conversation, is this:

One of the main arguments in favor of legalization is that “it’s the same as alcohol”, but I beg to differ. I know tens, if not hundreds of people who enjoy a bit of alcohol as a match to a food or another taste. They will sip a wine with a chocolate, a whisky with a cigar, a Cabernet with a cheese, a Chardonnay with fresh fruit. And stop after that sip or two.

Have you ever met someone who said “Oh wow, the taste of this weed matches so nicely with this “X” ? No, you haven’t.

In my experience, including being a over inflated college student lacking in common sense (in a by-gone age) marijuana was about getting high. It was not for taste, it was simply for how it intoxicated.

Yes, some people use alcohol to excess. Yes, some people use it to their detriment. Can you honestly say you know someone who smokes pot for “the taste” ?

The arguments are not the same.


Rusty Guardrail May 5, 2019 at 6:57 pm

The fact that pot is used to induce a temporary euphoric state doesn’t justify outlawing its possession or use.

Jeffrey Miller May 5, 2019 at 7:24 pm

We allow and encourage gambling in the state,which has a far more negative effect on families than pot. The state runs a con game named scratch offs ,with very few winners and mostly losers. Pharmaceutical companies throwing drugs down your mouth, no matter what the consequences. So let the people have what they want. It’s not a Cheech and Chong comedy anymore but a billion dollar industry.

Nora K King May 5, 2019 at 8:07 pm

You start the letter out with that the black community will suffer the most but you don’t have one supporting point. I don’t think this has been a rush to join other states but people using marijuana is not going to stop. Just like people drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. But once you regulate at least a safety factor has been entered and all those drug dealers will now be cut out of the picture. It will cut the corner drug dealer out of the picture and now it will be regulated. Comparing this to Jesus and Judas is insulting to the christian religion.

Pairing or Euphoric May 5, 2019 at 9:54 pm

There isn’t the wide spread matching of food and pot as we see with alcohol because it’s currently prohibited and there’s a stigma associated with it. Once recreational marijuana is legalized, you can be sure the culinary arts will introduce pairings, if they haven’t already started to do so in the states that don’t frown upon it. Five to ten years from now it will be common to see articles in Saveur or Food & Wine intertwining the two.

Whether you enjoy pairing it with food or simply because it relaxes you, it should be an adult’s choice and not the government’s.

Steve Mann May 6, 2019 at 9:59 am

Good judgement can not be legislated. People who make poor decisions will continue to do just that. Addictive personalities will always find something to be addicted to. The well-being of any one person, or any community for that matter can not be positively influenced by restricting personal choices. Same argument for gun control. Only law abiding citizens obey laws, and offenders will always find a way to obtain and use illicit products.

Holden Caulfield May 6, 2019 at 10:11 pm

You would have to be drunk to cite a bogus study from Colorado Christian University that says the cost of marijuana is $4.57 for every dollar of tax revenue. Would you send your child there? Me neither. Have a look for fun at the mission statement on their science program website.

Just think about this for a minute. Tax collected from marijuana sales in Colorado was $250 million dollars. So what this study is saying is that legal pot cost the state more than $1.1 BILLION!! Now if that figure alone doesn’t automatically convince you that this “study” is nonsense, maybe you should try to think about how the cost gets so high. In the top line summary, where it cites the main takeaways, it lists 15 individual cases of severe burns as a contributor. If you burn yourself that severely from using a lighter, I mean you should definitely not be allowed to drive a car, cook food or be anywhere near children. Pot is not what’s holding you back and you should definitely not be able to consume (or even use a bottle opener) alcohol or purchase a firearm.

You might be thinking yeah but what about DUI? DUI related to pot is a serious issue and should be punished along the lines of driving drunk. Marijuana related DUI cost was $25 million to the state of CO. Still not even close to that $1.1 billion.

But then you might think wait the government had a cash outlay of $1.1 billion for tax receipts $250 million? Well no because these costs being cited are societal costs, which are genuine costs, but nonetheless it’s not as if the government is shelling out $1.1B for every $250M because after all that would mean those running that state are worse than CT’s leaders. And even the argument that $1.1b is a true cost to society is specious at best. The main contribution to this cost are high school dropouts according to the “study.” How did they arrive at that conclusion? This is a recent study that is most likely relying on statistics from when pot was illegal. I don’t understand why people keep assuming that pot has this magic ingredient that turns people into fiends and dropouts. I’m not advocating for high school students to use cannabis but I find it hard to believe that statistic. Furthermore the study cites marijuana use as a leading cause of increased rates of alcohol consumption and abuse. Sure explain away alcohols costs to society by blaming it on pot. This is using a bunk gateway drug theory as a scapegoat to explain other problems that exist and aren’t acknowledged. People call pot a gateway drug which suggests you start with pot and move onto other, worse drugs. Maybe that’s true in a literal sequence of events but that doesn’t mean marijuana causes drug addiction. The reason it’s scapegoated is because no matter what a young child will have better access to pot than alcohol or opioids. The reason why kids have better access is because it’s illegal and unregulated. When was the last time you roamed the streets looking for some bathtub hard cider? Don’t believe me? Ask your son which was easier to score under the age of 21. It’s funny that we are able to blame severe obesity on genetics because we don’t wish to call it a disease associated addictive personalities and admit the true problem.

I have young children and my hope is that pot is legalized so it’s easier to talk about and hopefully easier to deter them from at a young age when their minds are developing. Frankly I think legalization of marijuana will create initial growing pains but down the road I hope that when it’s legal and regulated folks won’t go buy a sack of weed laced with chemicals on the street. My hope is that in the future people will treat pot like booze and they will only buy it in a store where they know exactly what they’re purchasing and what’s actually in it.

Here’s a summary of that biased disaster. http://cdn-centennial.pressidium.com/centennial/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Economic-and-Social-Costs-of-Legalized-Marijuana-CO.pdf

Read it for yourself but for Norwalk’s sake READ. Please read more!

Debora Goldstein May 7, 2019 at 10:02 am

Bruce Morris represented the 140th, which includes South Norwalk.

Not the 142nd, which has been held by L. Cafero, F. Wilms and, currently Lucy Dathan and covers West Norwalk and portions of New Canaan.

Rusty Guardrail May 7, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Cannabis use usually STOPS people from drinking alcohol, because the respective effects of the two substances contradict each other, i.e. temporarily heightened sensory awareness and introspection vs. dulled senses and diminished reasoning ability.

Anthony Tosti May 7, 2019 at 1:14 pm

Reverend Morris has had years of experience with the Norwalk
School System and the State Legislature. His first hand
knowledge of the problems associated with legalization
should be carefully considered.

Dean Wilton May 8, 2019 at 11:18 am

These comments made my day insofar as the rational arguments supported by facts from the supporters of legalization shows me that we as a culture are indeed ready and, dare I say, mature enough to welcome marijuana legalization as an opportunity to evolve past the grotesquely falsified stigma of ‘Reefer Madness’ and begin to make the type of common-sense policy and lifestyle transformations that this state and country desperately need.

Owen Duffy May 10, 2019 at 9:40 am

If Connecticut legalizes recreational marijuana, it is the black community that will suffer most.

I thought the argument was the other way around, or so I’ve heard. That illegal marijuana has hurt the black community the most.

Piberman May 13, 2019 at 9:14 pm

CT doesn’t care much for its black communities. That’s why our major cities where most black citizens live are severely depressed for decades and decades. Subject to the corrosive effects of illegal drugs, gun related violence, challenged families and severe shortage of good jobs. Everyone knows making pot legal will just add to the woes of our major cities.

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