The Connecticut Senate early this morning narrowly approved a bill to legalize cannabis for adult use as the Legislature prepares to adjourn today, CT News Junkie reports. It’s the first time either legislative chamber in the state has approved the reforms and Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont commended the chamber for passing the bill.
The legislation passed by just two votes – 19 to 17.
“The war on cannabis, which was at its core a war on people in Black and Brown communities, not only caused injustices and increased disparities in our state, it did little to protect public health and safety. That’s why I introduced a bill and worked hard with our partners in the legislature to create a comprehensive framework for a securely regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, social justice, and equity. It will help eliminate the dangerous, unregulated market and support a new growing sector of our economy, which will lead to jobs and growth. This measure is comprehensive, protects our children and the most vulnerable in our communities, and will be viewed as a national model for regulating the adult-use cannabis marketplace. I look forward to the Connecticut House of Representatives securing passage of this measure and sending it my desk.” — Lamont in a statement
The proposal would allow adults to possess up to 1.5 ounces in public and up to 5 ounces at home or in the glove box of a car. Sales to adults 21-and-older would begin in May 2022. The bill estimates that legal sales would lead to about $4.1 million in tax revenues during year one and about $26.3 million in year two, according to the fiscal note attached to the bill.
House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora told Fox 61 that the bill “is not about the policy of marijuana and the public health implications” rather decrying it as “all about revenue.”
Adults would be able to grow six plants per household, up to 12 plants, by July 2023. The bill also includes provisions allowing Connecticut cannabis workers to unionize along with social equity rules to ensure 65% ownership in cannabis businesses benefit communities most impacted by the War on Drugs. The legislation would also require the state to set up a social equity commission.
Opponents of the bill could try and prevent its passage by debating the proposal until after tonight’s midnight deadline but House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) said he could immediately call back lawmakers for a special session on Thursday to continue the debate and vote on the reforms.
Lukas Barfield contributed to this report.
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