Faith leaders from across the state joined together at the Capitol to urge lawmakers to end prohibition
Hartford, CT — Today, a coalition of clergy gathered at the State Capitol for a news conference in support of legislation to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older.
Efforts to end cannabis prohibition in 2020 are picking up steam in Connecticut. In the first week of 2020’s legislative session, Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney (D) and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D) introduced a cannabis legalization bill that is backed by Gov. Ned Lamont. A summary of the bill can be found here. Meanwhile, a January 2020 GQR poll found that a strong majority (65%) of Connecticut residents support legalizing cannabis.
Participants included Rev. Tommie Jackson of Rehoboth Fellowship Church (Stamford); Rev. Alexander Sharp of Clergy for a New Drug Policy; Rev. Stephen W. Camp of Faith Congregational Church (Hartford); Rev. Simon Castillo of Good Shepherd Christian Church (Bridgeport); Rev. Zoey Dominguez of Rehoboth Fellowship Church (Stamford); Rev. Dr. Lindsay E. Curtis of Grace Baptist Church (Norwalk); Rev. Lawrence Hunter of Grace Baptist (Waterbury); Bishop William Marshall, pastor of City of Life Worship and Deliverance Center (Bridgeport and Waterbury); Bishop Robert L. Middleton, Jr., senior pastor of New Beginnings Ministries, Inc. (Hamden); Rev. Edwin Pérez of United Church on the Green/Apostolic Fellowship International Revival Ministries (New Haven); and Rev. Charlie L. Stallworth of East End Baptist Tabernacle Church (Bridgeport).
In addition, the gospel choir "Brothers in Christ" of Cross Street AME Zion Church in Middletown also performed.
Statement from Rev. Alexander Sharp, executive director of Clergy for a New Drug Policy:
“Prohibition does not work. Legalization will regulate the market and bring sorely needed revenue to the state budget, reduce needless arrests, especially for people of color, and provide jobs in communities ravaged by the failed war on drugs.”
Statement from Bishop Robert L. Middleton, senior pastor of New Beginnings Ministry, Inc.:
“Connecticut can’t afford to wait any longer before addressing this urgent issue. It’s time to right the many wrongs associated with the prohibition of marijuana, and Connecticut can and should be a leader in this process. I urge our legislators to pass legislation to regulate and tax cannabis for adults and end the harmful and failed policy of prohibition in our state.”
Statement from Rev. Charlie Stallworth of East End Baptist Church in Bridgeport:
“Much like alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, our efforts to deal with cannabis using law enforcement and the criminal justice system have been a total failure. Regulation will free up resources so that police can focus on more serious crimes and will also help improve police/ community relationships. And, instead of continuing to fuel organized crime, the money spent on cannabis in our state can and should be used to help revitalize communities that have been disproportionately harmed by enforcement of laws against cannabis.”
Statement from Rev. Tommie Jackson of Rehoboth Fellowship Church in Stamford:
“Our group represents more than 100 congregations across the state. There is a real need, and it is critically important to regulate cannabis in Connecticut during this legislative session. Connecticut needs to send a strong message that the public safety and public health of its residents is a top priority. Regulation will reduce prison sentences, fund much-needed services, and direct revenue to those communities most negatively impacted by the war on cannabis. It’s time to pass it.”