HARTFORD -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's national profile is growing like the buds on a medical marijuana plant.
Connecticut's globetrotting governor has been named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 10 best politicians on pot reform. Malloy has signed legislation decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana and to allow the sale of weed for medical purposes.
Could a cover profile in High Times magazine be next?
Rolling Stone pointed out that this month marks the 75th anniversary of marijuana prohibition in America, and said a Gallup poll last year found that a majority of Americans think marijuana should be legal. "The evidence suggests that the government ban may finally be on its way out," the magazine said.
"Last year, Connecticut's governor signed a marijuana decriminalization bill into law," Rolling Stone explained.
"Instead of facing a $1,000 fine and possible jail time, marijuana offenders now must pay $150 for their first offense and between $200 and $500 for subsequent violations. This spring, Malloy also signed a new law making Connecticut the country's 17th state to legalize medical marijuana. (As his opponents often point out, Connecticut's governor has a personal stake in marijuana policy reform: His son, now in his twenties, has had multiple legal run-ins allegedly involving marijuana.)," the magazine continued.
Joining Malloy on the list is U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who wants to legalize marijuana, and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who brought marijuana dispensaries to his state and joined a national effort to recognize the plant's medical benefits.
While Malloy, a Democrat, stopped far short of advocating legalization of marijuana, his position was a change from former governors M. Jodi Rell and John G. Rowland, both Republicans who likely would have vetoed the bills Malloy signed.
Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy's senior adviser, said the governor believes his policy is the right way to handle the sticky issue of marijuana.
"The governor is proud that Connecticut is becoming a leader in implementing enlightened, progressive criminal justice policies that enhance public safety," Occhiogrosso said.
"His position on marijuana possession was formed in the 1980s, when he was a prosecutor in New York City."
"The governor is also proud that Connecticut is finding new, legal ways to ease the pain and suffering of people who are very, very sick," Occhiogrosso said.
Occhiogrosso did not comment on Rolling Stone's reference to Benjamin Malloy, the governor's son who was arrested in 2007 for possessing and selling marijuana. Opponents of decriminalizing pot, such as state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Stamford, have said Malloy had a "personal" stake in the issue because of his son's past.
"The feedback I'm getting is that the state is sending a bad message to young people," Boucher said Tuesday. "A Yale study showed that pot is a gateway to other drugs. It's hurting efforts to keep young people off drugs."