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Legalizing and taxing weed?

Should Connecticut legalize marijuana for ordinary recreational use, as neighboring Massachusetts has just done?

To a great extent Connecticut already has legalized the intoxicating weed, since the state has authorized medical prescriptions for it and licensed a few medical dispensaries, and criminal penalties for simple possession have been reduced to irrelevance. As a practical matter for years marijuana use has been so widespread in the state that police and courts didn’t bother much with enforcement.

The question in Connecticut isn’t so much about legalization itself as about state government’s licensing and taxing sales to gain millions of dollars each year. While marijuana use is already heavy in Connecticut, thrusting state government into the dope business this way will increase drug abuse, indolence, intoxicated driving, youthful stupidity and unplanned pregnancies.

People may find this price acceptable the more they rely on state government for their income. Others may not be as convinced. But there is also a constitutional reason to avoid putting state government into the marijuana business. That is, marijuana remains prohibited by federal law, so state government’s licensing and profiting from its sale would constitute nullification.

There would be no nullification in simply repealing Connecticut’s laws against marijuana, leaving enforcement to the feds, and probably little damage in doing so, state law being so ineffective already. But putting the state into the marijuana business would aggressively contravene federal law, as the state does by issuing driver’s licenses and other forms of identification to illegal immigrants.

SO WHO NEEDS EXPERIENCE? Connecticut U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy opposes President Trump’s nomination of State Department spokeswoman and former Fox News personality Heather Nauert for United Nations ambassador because of her lack of diplomatic experience. But Murphy has just engineered the election to Congress of Waterbury’s former state and national teacher of the year Jahana Hayes despite her lack of political or governmental experience. Somehow it was fine with Murphy for Hayes to start at the top without having served even a day on a local school or zoning board.

Indeed, upon the death of former President George H.W. Bush, Murphy, like many others, was celebrating the former president’s career and character though Bush was appointed U.N. ambassador by President Richard Nixon in 1971 without any diplomatic experience, just two terms in Congress. Bush got the U.N. job not for any diplomatic skills but as political patronage, a consolation prize after losing a campaign for U.S. senator.

Trump’s first U.N. ambassador, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, had no diplomatic experience either but has been widely praised for her work at the U.N. So experience isn’t everything — unless it can be used against one’s political adversaries.

 

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.