The Connecticut House on Wednesday approved a cannabis legalization bill with the Senate expected to vote on the proposal today, the Hartford Courant reports. The vote came during a special session, which Democratic leaders called after the House failed to vote on a Senate-approved legalization bill before the end of the state’s regular session.
The Senate has approved the measure twice in eight days but had recently amended social equity provisions in the bill enough to force Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont—a strong supporter of legalization —to threaten a veto, according to CT New Junkie. The changes included an amendment that would have included wealthy relatives of anyone who had previously been arrested on cannabis charges to be considered a social equity applicant.
House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) told the Courant that most of the caucus members were comfortable removing the language opposed by the governor as it was not part of the original bill drafted in coordination with Lamont’s office.
The House plans to restore the initial definition of equity applicants to only include individuals from areas most disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis laws—those with the highest rates of drug-related arrests—high unemployment rates, and those with incomes less than 300% of the state median.
Following the House vote, Rep. Steven Stafstrom (D) said the state’s “time has finally come” for broad cannabis legalization.
“We take the next step as this chamber in recognizing the war on drugs has failed us and the criminalization of cannabis was the wrong course of action for our state and for our nation.”— Stafstrom to the Courant
As currently drafted, the measure would allow adults 21-and-older to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis, including up to five ounces at home or in a vehicle’s glove box or trunk, starting on July 1. Retail sales in Connecticut are not expected to start until May 2022.
The bill passed the House 76-62. During the regular session, the Senate passed the bill by just two votes.
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