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Clergy members rally in support of proposed bill to legalize marijuana


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    HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) — On Tuesday morning, church leaders from around the state rallied in support of a bill to legalize marijuana.

The Connecticut Clergy Coalition is advocating for Gov. Ned Lamont’s bill that would regulate and tax pot.

The group represents more than 100 congregations, and said marijuana regulation crosses racial, ethnic, and gender lines.

They’re urging other state lawmakers to support the governor’s bill, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess and purchase up to one and a half ounces of cannabis from a licensed retailer.

The Coalition said they support the law because legitimate taxpayers will be selling the product, and not drug cartels or criminals.

They point out arrests because of prohibition have disproportionately impacted people of color and inner-city residents.

“I’m tired of our young black and brown children having their lives disrupted when we can regulate cannabis,” said Rev. Stephen Camp, Faith Congregational Church in Hartford.

Lamont introduced a bill to legalize recreational marijuana. He says it’s tie to work with neighboring states that have taken the step or are considering it.

“You know within a short driver on our borders, people can buy legalized marijuana or they can buy it on the illicit market,” Lamont said.

In his State of the State address, Lamont also talked about legalization as a social justice issue.

“It is time that we stand together on this failed policy and move forward on a way that will lift our communities up and allow our state to move forward,” said Rev. Charlie Stallworth, of East End Baptist Tabernacle Church in Bridgeport.

Republican lawmaker Vincent Candelora says he’s open to helping people hurt by possession-related convictions. He’s also open to allowing people to grow marijuana at home, but he’s still opposed to regulating the sale of it.

“I think when you know you put profit into it, that’s when our children especially are going to be prayed upon,” Candelora said.

The group added that this measure would allow police to focus on more serious crimes and improve community relations.

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