Connecticut Becomes 19th State to Legalize Cannabis

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Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has signed a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and over. The legislation received final approval from both Connecticut legislature chambers in a special session last week. Sponsored by Senate President Martin Looney and House Speaker Matt Ritter, S.B. 1201 makes Connecticut the 19th state to legalize cannabis.

Help from the Marijuana Policy Project

With the governor’s signature, Connecticut is the sixth state to legalize via its state legislature. Additionally, Connecticut becomes the fourth state to adopt a legalization policy this year alone, joining New Mexico, New York, and Virginia.

“We commend the Connecticut Legislature and governor for their commitment to getting this important, equity-centered legalization bill over the finish line,” said Steven Hawkins, executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Connecticut has recognized that cannabis legalization is a civil rights issue and crafted a legalization law that aims to redress the unequal enforcement of cannabis laws and the harm caused by marijuana prohibition to Black and Brown communities, young people, and other marginalized groups.”

S.B. 1201 legalizes possession of up to one and a half ounces of cannabis. The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2021, with legal sales anticipated by May 2022. In addition, adults can grow their own cannabis at home starting July 1, 2023, securely. For more information, a full summary of the bill is available here. A comparison between it and other state legalization laws can be seen here.

Social Equity Programs

In addition to legalizing cannabis, S.B. 1201 includes expungement of lower-level cannabis records.  It also dedicates the bulk of excise tax revenues into a Social Equity and Innovation Fund. This fund which will promote a diverse cannabis industry reinvest in hard-hit communities. Half of new cannabis business licenses will be issued to social equity applicants. Once approved, those who are qualified can receive technical assistance, start-up funding, assistance from an accelerator program, and workforce training.

“MPP is proud to have played a key part in this multi-year effort to reform Connecticut’s cannabis laws,” said DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We believe the legislation signed by Gov. Lamont is one of the most comprehensive cannabis bills on equity and criminal justice reform in the nation. This new policy will make a real difference in the lives of Connecticut’s citizens by mitigating decades of disproportionate impact, generating good-paying jobs and powering the state’s economic growth, and allowing adults to make their own decisions about cannabis consumption.”

This is just one of the many examples cannabis is becoming a more accepted entity. Although this is a step in the right diretion, there are many questions ahead for Connecticut. For example, how can two adjascent states do business with each other if they both legalized cannabis? Eventually enough states will legalize cannabis to a point where federal legalization is necessary. Until then, Connecticuct joins the many other states to legalize cannabis for adults.

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