By: Nicole Hampton-Candidate for 143rd District
Meeting Details below for 9/19/22 and 9/20/22 Meeting
Everyone is aware that Connecticut legalized recreational cannabis use last year, but did you know that our community has the option to sell it or not to sell it? It all comes down to the 3% revenue for that municipality. I’m not condemning recreational cannabis use, and I understand that everyone’s pathway to wellness looks different. I was hoping that it would be better regulated. It seems that we’re putting the cart before the horse. The cannabis legislation does not put a cap on the THC level for vape cartridges, which we all know are popular among kids. There’s also no funding for prevention education until FY 2024, and no warning labels. Cigarettes and alcohol have warning labels about the risks of birth defects, impaired driving, and health problems, so why isn’t CT requiring those for cannabis? Children should be warned that cannabis could turn into a gateway drug for them. The loss of IQ in teens, cyclical vomiting disorder, and erectile dysfunction are only a few of the many health risks associated with cannabis use addiction. Also, our state made $15,000,000 from the application fees for these cannabis cash-only store fronts. Where is that money being allocated to? Why isn’t it going towards prevention programs to protect our youth? These are questions I urge everyone to ask their elected officials, both city and statewide.
Each municipality has the choice of whether to sell recreational cannabis or not. If such a municipality chooses to sell it, then they must designate a public cannabis consumption site(s) as well as identify where cannabis cash-only storefronts can be located. Norwalk’s Common Council has left this up to our mayor to decide where such a site or sites shall be, and Planning & Zoning will determine where the cannabis cash-only storefronts can be located. In their previous meetings, they mentioned having security at the public consumption site. I’m wondering if such security will carry Narcan to revive people who overdose once the site becomes a public space for drug use, since fentanyl (a synthetic opioid 50x stronger than heroin and 100x stronger than morphine) is now so prevalent in the drug trade, including being able to be laced into cannabis. Why aren’t we listening to the suggestions from Colorado and California on how they regret legalizing it? They are both warning other states that their DUIs, crime and homelessness will increase! One reason for the increase in crime is that cannabis businesses are cash only due to federal regulation, so they are constantly being robbed. Yet our city is still looking at the one pro I identified, the 3% revenue. Aren’t we all fighting for our children and their future? It has been mentioned during ordinance committee meetings that it is important to have prevention for black and brown children. We should acknowledge that all kids deserve to be offered prevention. Addiction does not discriminate if you’re black, brown, white or purple.
Most of us know that cannabis is the gateway drug for many, especially with today’s increased THC levels. Cannabis over 10% THC level is associated with increases in mental illness (anxiety, psychosis, and suicidal ideation) and addiction, particularly in teens–and yet CT is allowing cannabis plants to contain 30% THC and concentrates to contain 60% THC. Right here in Norwalk we’ve had teens go to the hospital after dabbing high-THC marijuana just one time. For true equity and inclusion, ALL children should be warned of the dangers–but the city and state are putting virtually no funding into prevention work to protect our youth. At a minimum there should be real consequences for underage marijuana use–but there aren’t any in CT’s law. Does Norwalk really need the tax revenue so much that we should be subjecting our kids to these risks? Is that really helping our black and brown children? I notice the mostly white communities around us are all refusing to allow sales in their towns.
I also want to know why our community isn’t talking about the overdoses happening a few times a week in our city. Since the 1st of September, Norwalk has had 13 overdoses, 3 fatal. What happened to transparency for our community? As per our city’s ordinance, our cops are to provide a report for cannabis violations. How can we expect this if as per the police accountability bill the cops can’t pull someone over for smoking cannabis, but only if they witness them hit something? Smoking cannabis while driving does not come close to the consequences on drinking while driving. Again, great questions for our elected officials, both city and statewide.
As a woman in recovery from mental health and addiction, a mother, and State Representative candidate for the 143rd District, (Norwalk & Westport), I feel there are serious cons that outweigh the pros of selling cannabis in our community.
Our city will be hosting Norwalk’s Cannabis Ordinance Virtual Town Hall Meeting, this Monday, 9/19, 5:30-6:30pm (zoom meeting ID: 646 558 8656, password: 631383), and Norwalk’s Common Council, Ordinance Committee Public Hearing, this Tuesday, 9/20, 7pm (zoom meeting ID: 646 558 8656, password: 377930). These are the only opportunities to ask questions or share your views, since the Ordinance Committee has no intention of holding a referendum. We can still log on to get all the details, and they can check the box!
Nicole T. Hampton, CPRS, RCP
CT House Rep Candidate, 143rd District