Connecticut Governor Introduces Draft Bill for Cannabis Legalization

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The governor of Connecticut has introduced a new bill that would legalize cannabis. This is a measure the governor is pushing to enact this year.

Collaborative Effort

Gov. Ned Lamont (D) of Connecticut has once again displayed his support for cannabis legalization after introducing a bill that would do so. This isn’t the first time Lamont has demonstrated his support. Lamont reiterated his stance on cannabis legalization during his annual State of the State address to start the year. During which he claimed he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

“I am working with our neighboring states and look forward to working with our tribal partners on a path forward to modernize gaming in our state, as well as the legislature on legalization of marijuana,” he said at the time. “Sports betting, internet gaming, and legalized marijuana are happening all around us. Let’s not surrender these opportunities to out-of-state markets or, even worse, underground markets.”

The draft legislation, which was first reported by The CT Mirror, would establish a tax-and-regulate cannabis market in the state.

According to the outlet, wholesale marijuana flower would be taxed at $1.25 per gram under this proposal. Trimmed plants would be subject to a 50 cents tax per gram. Finally, the state’s 6.35 percent sales tax would be imposed on retail cannabis purchases, as well as a three percent surcharge, with revenue partly going to local jurisdictions.

Another benefit from this bill would be the automatic expungements for people with low-level cannabis possession, from Oct. 1, 2015, or earlier.  For those convicted after that date, they will be able to petition the courts for relief.

Here are a few other aspects of this bill:

  • Restricting the marketing to prevent appealing to youth
  • Increasing law enforcement resources for drug recognition experts to identify impaired driving
  • Incorporating cannabis smoking and vaping into the state’s indoor clean air laws.

While this isn’t the first time Connecticut tried to legalize cannabis, officials are much more optimistic this year.

“I think it has extremely stronger prospects than it had in recent years,” Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D), co-chair of the Public Health Committee, told CT Mirror.

Clear Opposition

Although Lamont is clearly in favor of cannabis legalization, he has not yet said he would include the proposal in his budget request, which is due next month.

Lamont will have some challenges ahead of him. A handful of Connecticut officials clearly oppose cannabis legalization.

“Frosty the Snowman would have a better chance of passing summer school in hell than any piece of legislation in Connecticut if it doesn’t deal with equity, economics and the communities that have been targeted and devastated by this fake war on drugs,” Sen. Douglas McCrory (D), co-chair of the Education Committee, told the local news outlet.

House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) said that legalization in the state is “inevitable in November.” He added later that month that “I think it’s got a 50–50 chance of passing [in 2021], and I think you should have a vote regardless.”

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