The Connecticut Capitol Building during a pink-toned sunset.

Lisa Jacobs

Connecticut Dems Add Cannabis Revenue to Budget Proposal to Keep Issue Alive

Democratic lawmakers in Connecticut have included funds from a theoretical recreational cannabis program in their budget recommendation in an effort to spur conversation about legalization and how the industry could help balance the budget, according to a Hartford Courant report. The state’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis found that a legal model similar to Colorado would be worth about $64 million in state tax dollars its first full year, while a program more similar to Massachusetts would generate more than $30 million in year one.

The agency reported that the costs to implement a Massachusetts-like model would run the state $4.2 million, while a Colorado model would cost $9 million.

In March, the General Assembly Public Health Committee debated a legalization bill but did not vote on the measure by its deadline. The Judiciary Committee also failed to put the matter to a vote.

Cannabis does have some high-powered proponents in the General Assembly, including Rep. Melissa Ziobron, the ranking House Republican on the budget-writing committee, and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, a Democrat. House Democrats would likely need some support from their Republican colleagues if the bill were to make it to a floor vote because they do not have enough votes in their 79-member caucus to pass the measure – which would need 76 votes in the 151-member chamber.

Gov. Dan Malloy also stands in the way – he has called cannabis industry dollars “blood money” and would probably veto any legalization measures. The Democrat proposal will not be included in any budget bills voted on by the General Assembly.

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