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Law Connecticut


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Democrats will push legalizing pot as part of budget fix

Senate and House Democrats will recommend the legalization, licensing and taxation of marijuana sales in Connecticut to help balance the next state budget, sources close to the caucuses told The Mirror.

Democratic legislative leaders are expected to release proposals later today to help close a projected gap of roughly $5 billion in the next two-year state budget.

Marijuana legalization would be just one component of a much larger plan, sources said, adding that the caucuses assume this would yield about $60 million in additional revenue for the state next fiscal year, and $180 million by 2018-19.

Those revenue estimates are slightly more aggressive than those produced by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis back in February.

OFA estimated that Connecticut could raise between $30 million and $105 million per year if the state were to adopt a model similar to those enacted in Massachusetts or Colorado.

Analysts based their projections for marijuana-related revenue on Connecticut’s present base sales tax rate of 6.35 percent.

But they also project that Connecticut would need to spend about 14 percent of any new sales tax revenue produced to cover the cost of regulating and licensing marijuana sales.

State finances, unless adjusted, would run $2.2 billion and $2.7 billion, respectively, in the upcoming biennium, according to the nonpartisan analysts. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration pegs the potential deficits at $2.3 billion and $2.8 billion, respectively, or $5.1 billion for the biennium.

Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, has recommended in recent years that Connecticut consider legalization as a means to diversify the state’s revenue stream.

In recent years, Connecticut has legalized marijuana use for palliative purposes and decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug.

Rep. Melissa Ziobron of East Haddam, ranking House Republican on the Appropriations Committee, also favors legalization.

But the proposal remains very controversial and also has plenty of high-profile opponents.

Malloy has not said whether legalization of marijuana would be a budget deal-breaker — in other words, whether he would veto a budget just to stop legalization — but has said he opposes it in concept.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, also has said she believes legalization would be a mistake.
Board Votes To Add Ailments To Medical Marijuana Program

A state panel of doctors voted Friday to add two entries to the list of debilitating medical conditions they believe should be eligible for treatment by medical marijuana.

At its monthly meeting, the board — under the auspices of the state Department of Consumer Protection — unanimously voted to add “intractable headache syndrome” and “neuropathic facial pain” to the list of new conditions pending approval by the legislature.

Their inclusion brings the list of new conditions to seven, joining other illnesses such as fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy and rheumatoid arthritis.

All seven of the board’s recommendations have been approved by the DCP commissioner, but also need approval from the legislature’s regulation review committee before they take effect.

Currently, the state’s medical marijuana statute covers 22 conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and cystic fibrosis. Of those conditions, six apply to childhood patients in the program.

Here are the conditions under which medicinal marijuana is currently legal in the state of Connecticut.

Friday’s meeting was notable in that the two conditions discussed were recommended by the board rather than through a public petition, as others have been previously.

At their June meeting, members of the panel moved to replace the previously approved conditions of migraines and trigeminal neuralgia with the current terms so that “people aren’t excluded because their specific condition is not listed” in the statute.

“Intractable,” in layman’s terms, applies to any condition that cannot be fully controlled by any medicine or procedure. It, like “neuropathic facial pain” is a broad, umbrella term that can describe a number of conditions.

The panel’s vote was preceded by emotionally charged testimony from Taylor Dudek, a teen from Lisbon who lives with “chronic uncontrollable plain” due to a defect in her brain near her spinal cord, she said.

“I don’t remember a day, even a minute without pain,” Dudek, 19, said. “I cant recall a day where I have opened my eyes and the first thought on my mind was something other than the constant throbbing pounding pain in my head.”

Dudek has tried a bevy of treatments — ranging from yoga and acupuncture to neurosurgical procedures — with no relief. The teen, who is studying medicine herself at Bay Path University, said she finds it “disheartening” that doctors have been apt to prescribe her opioids to deal with her constant pain.

“Because of the stigma that surrounds marijuana, I as a person suffering from debilitating conditions am unable to benefit from medically prescribed marijuana because my conditions are not yet listed on the approved list of conditions,” she said.

The state’s medical marijuana program has grown continuously: Currently, 19,117 Connecticut residents are eligible to receive medical marijuana, and 724 physicians are licensed to prescribe it.

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Copyright © 2017, Hartford Courant

Surprisingly High Percentage of Connecticut Residents Support Marijuana Legalization

A new Sacred Heart University poll conducted between Oct. 3-12 is shedding light on where Connecticut residents stand on a wide range of topics including marijuana reform, and the results may surprise many.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been embroiled in a debate over the state’s budget in recent months, leading researchers of the poll to address the financial concerns of residents. As it turns out, a clear majority of the state agreed on one traditionally polarizing topic: the legalization of marijuana for adults.

On the topic of ending marijuana prohibition and creating an entirely new revenue stream for the seemingly strapped state, 70.6 percent of people surveyed either “strongly or somewhat support” the idea.

Marijuana.com contacted Michael Vigeant, CEO of Great Blue Research, the research organization partnering with Sacred Heart on the polls to gain insight into the questioning of the survey.

Vigeant said the state’s budget crisis inspired writers of the survey to look at what the real solutions could be and then pose those questions to residents. “The context of the questions was, essentially, ‘How do we get out of this? Here are your best options.’”

With results that could sway greatly in one direction or the other depending on the age demographic polled, Vigeant assured me that their subject pool accurately reflects Connecticut’s resident base.


Demographic breakdown of participants in the Sacred Heart University / Great Blue poll

Vigeant explained that having a subject pool proportional to population contribution was essential to discovering the true beliefs of residents — regardless of party affiliation.

The 70.6 percent of Connecticut residents who would support marijuana legalization at some level is an impressive jump from just two years ago when a Quinnipiac poll found that 63 percent of residents in the state would support legalization. The advent of a recreational marijuana market in neighboring Massachusetts could be weighing heavily on bystanders in Connecticut looking for a way to balance the troubling budget.


Support by residents for alternative solutions to solving the Connecticut budget crisis

One thing Vigeant found especially fascinating was that a significant percentage of Connecticut residents “would rather implement legal marijuana taxes to solve the budget crisis than a number of seemingly easier options.”

Digging deeper into the numbers, 83.2 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 support legalization, compared to 59.6 percent of residents over the age of 55. Respondents between 35 and 54 were close to the overall polling results, with 72.1 percent supporting the end of cannabis prohibition.

Vigeant said his team was surprised at the strong support for legalization, especially “how open Connecticut residents were to alternative options as opposed to traditional tax increases or service cuts.”

While those over the age of 55 may be the marijuana industry’s fastest growing consumer segment, it will take some time for the age group’s voting habits to reflect the culture change. But progress is progress, and it will be interesting to see how marijuana legalization figures into solving the budget conundrum in the Constitution State.
Surprisingly High Percentage of Connecticut Residents Support Marijuana Legalization
Why is this always such a big surprise? :hmm: With the polls and all the magazine covers lately, etc., why is this phrase in so many headlines?
why is this phrase in so many headlines?

Fake news?? LOL Or maybe:

Everyone Agrees That Weed Is Great — Except Politicians

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup. Today’s theme song: “Benson” from the television show “Benson” in honor of the show’s star, Robert Guillaume, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 89.

Poll of the week
A Gallup poll released Wednesday found that a record high 64 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. It follows other surveys published this year also showing that a clear majority of Americans support making marijuana consumption legal. But what’s most interesting about the Gallup survey is that it found that a majority of Americans of all political stripes are for legalization.

Gallup found that 72 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents and 51 percent of Republicans support marijuana becoming legal. This makes marijuana one of the least polarized issues of our time (and one that some political party might be smart to take advantage of).The chart below uses Gallup’s data on marijuana and the Pew Research Center’s recent data on other policies.



Issues such as abortion, gun control and health care find Democrats and Republicans so far apart that it’s hard to win over many voters of the other party when adopting a stance popular with your own party’s voters. Marijuana isn’t that way.

And yet, despite the clear bipartisan appeal of marijuana, it has only been approved for recreational use in eight states and Washington, D.C. Neither Democrat Hillary Clinton nor Republican Donald Trump came out in favor of recreational marijuana purchases during the 2016 election. Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has actually taken a harder-line stance on marijuana than recent administrations, including criticizing states that have made it legal.

Democrats and Republicans might be slow to fully support recreational marijuana because, despite it being broadly popular, supporters don’t feel all that strongly about it. Only 31 percent of Americans “strongly” favored legalization in a 2016 PRRI poll, despite 63 percent being in favor overall. My own 2014 study of marijuana ballot measures suggested they don’t raise young voter turnout, even though young voters were the most likely to favor legalization. Just 28 percent of Americans told Marist College in March 2017 that they would be likely to buy and use marijuana if the federal government legalized it. (Of course, some people may be unwilling to tell a pollster this.)

Yet it’s also probable that politicians simply haven’t caught up to public opinion on the issue. As we saw with same-sex marriage just a few years ago, Democratic officials were slow to warm to the idea of legalization even when the vast majority of their party and a majority of the public were in favor. In the case of marijuana, politicians are probably unaware of how fast the ground has shifted. In 2003, only 35 percent of Democrats and 20 percent of Republicans supported making weed legal. Those numbers have since skyrocketed.


The question going forward is whether politicians of either party are willing to recognize the trend and take advantage of it electorally.

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CT panel OKs one more condition for medical marijuana program

Connecticut's Board of Physicians on Monday added one medical condition that can be treated through the state's medical marijuana program.

Following a morning public hearing, the board approved medical marijuana use osteogenesis imperfecta, but did not recommend approval for albinism, also known as nystagmus.

Albinism is a congenital disorder in which a person has complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. In the genetic disorder osteogenesis imperfecta, bones break easily.

Up until Monday's vote, there were 22 conditions that may qualify adults for Connecticut's medical marijuana program, and six conditions for patients under 18.

For two additional conditions, the board decided to table action and hold another public hearing to be scheduled at a future date.

For the conditions of opioid use disorder/opiate withdrawal, the board is "looking for more input from the addiction and mental health communities," said state Department of Consumer Protection spokesperson Lora Rae Anderson. The board also wants to better define the condition of progressive degenerative disc disease of the spine, she said.

To submit information or feedback to the board, email board members at dcp.mmp@ct.gov.

There are currently 23,889 medical marijuana patients in the state and 834 physicians registered with the program.
"There is concern among some members of the General Assembly that Connecticut could miss out on the push toward legalization."
What they are worried about missing out on is the tax dollars. Cynical, yes...but our professional political class deserves all of the cynicism they get...they earned it.

Will this be the year Connecticut legalizes marijuana?

By Susan Haigh, Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut legislators are under pressure to revisit legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, as a growing number of New England states are allowing people to possess and use pot.

There is concern among some members of the General Assembly that Connecticut could miss out on the push toward legalization.

Democratic Senate President Martin Looney noted last week how Maine and Massachusetts approved ballot initiatives in 2016 and commercial marijuana sales are expected to begin in neighboring Massachusetts in July. Meanwhile, Vermont lawmakers recently voted to legalize marijuana and Rhode Island and New Jersey are considering enacting similar measures.

“We need to ensure that Connecticut is not left behind as our neighbors move forward with common sense marijuana policy,” Looney said.

While the concept has been proposed in each of the last several legislative sessions, it remains questionable that 2018 will be the year marijuana legalization can clear the legislature.

Some highlights of this year’s debate:

What’s happening?
Marijuana advocates turned out in force last week for a public hearing before the General Assembly’s General Law Committee, with some wearing flag-like capes with bright green marijuana leaf prints.

That committee’s bill attempts to set up a wide-ranging system for cultivating, selling and possessing the drug, including the creation of a Marijuana Control Council that would regulate marijuana retail stores and marijuana lounges offering “on-site consumption,” according to the legislation.

Related stories
Proponents are expected to also voice support Monday for another bill before the Judiciary Committee that includes some similar provisions, including the ability to tax the drug. It also makes it legal for people 21 years and older to possess an ounce of “usable marijuana.” By 2020, the legislation expands legalization to include marijuana products and the cultivation of six marijuana plants.

Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, who allowed a 90-minute House debate on marijuana legalization last year before the bill was pulled, said the issue is “clearly something that deserves to be looked at.” He contends there is a growing momentum in Connecticut toward legalization, citing the state’s successful medical marijuana program and the legislature’s recent decision to decriminalize adult possession of small amounts of pot.

“Yes, there is potential revenue to consider, but that certainly isn’t why polls show people in Connecticut favoring legalization,” he said.

The Debate
Support for marijuana legalization has come from the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut to everyday individuals.

“This bill to fully legalize marijuana presents a chance for our state to further honor individual privacy rights, prevent discrimination and remedy the disparate burdens that marijuana prohibition has placed on youth, communities of color and poor communities throughout the state,” said Kaley Lentini, the legislative counsel for ACLU-CT.

But strong resistance remains.

For example, AAA, the advocacy group for motorists, said it opposes recreational marijuana. It cites a broad range of traffic safety concerns, including increases in drugged driving and marijuana-related fatal crashes, the inability to easily and accurately measure marijuana impairment and the challenges legalization would present to law enforcement, courts and state agencies.

Republican Rep. Holly Cheeseman, of East Lyme, argued that “simply grasping for additional revenue” to help balance the state’s deficit-plagued budget “does not justify risking the health and well-being of our citizens.”

Where the governor stands
Even if legislators pass a legalization bill, it remains unclear if Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would sign it into law. While the Democrat has been unenthusiastic about sanctioning the recreational use, he has not vowed to veto a legalization bill, preferring to wait and see what the General Assembly comes up with.

“I’m not going to personally endorse the use of marijuana, except for medical purposes,” he said. “But I certainly understand that the legislature may disagree and I’ll make any judgment about legislation when it comes before me.”
Second legislative hearing sees overwhelming support for marijuana legalization

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Another major General Assembly Committee heard the pros and cons of legalizing recreational marijuana on Monday and again, the majority of those testifying spoke in favor of legalizing pot for those over age 21.

Legal marijuana is expected to be available in about three months just over the border in Massachusetts, but despite all this, head counters at the Capitol say legalization in Connecticut is unlikely.

The highest ranking Democrat in the Assembly, Senate President Pro tem Martin Looney of New Haven, said it’s time to regulate and tax marijuana. Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont are doing it, and Rhode Island and New Jersey are seriously considering it.

Advocates say the legal marijuana business in Colorado has created 18,000 jobs and generated $2.4 billion dollars in economic activity. It is also estimated that close to a half million Connecticut residents use marijuana.

Related Content: Connecticut lawmakers taking another look at legalizing pot

William ‘Bo’ Huhn of Guilford is marshaling people from around the state in a group called ‘Smart Approach to Marijuana” to speak in opposition to legalization at another hearing next week. He added, “I believe that legalization is going to be about the worst thing we could do for our kids in this state, in terms of more drug use and more addiction.”

Even though all of the bills before the Assembly call for legalization only for those over age 21, Huhn, whose daughter became addicted to crack at age 15, says once it’s legal, it will become more available to teenagers and science proves it’s very dangerous for them.

Huhn stated, “People don’t start using opiates, they start with alcohol in the basement or marijuana in the woods and they take the next step and the next step and the next step.”

But for the second time this month, the majority of people at a public hearing strongly endorsed legalization. “71 percent of Connecticut residents are in support of legalization and I’d say well over 70 percent of the people in that room are so it’s good to see people turning out,” said Sam Tracy of “RegulateCT” the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana.

Related Content: Debate over legalized recreational marijuana

But the Republican co-chair of the Judiciary Committee doesn’t think things have changed since last year. Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield) said, “I actually don’t think the marijuana bill is going to move forward this session. I don’t think the votes have changed from last year. There wasn’t even enough support to get it out of the Judiciary Committee last year and I’m not really sure that’s changed at all.”

Marijuana legalization bills will come before two more committees over the next two weeks.
Its a reasonably short drive to where it is legal...and taxable. So fuck off, Conn politicians.

Democrats And Republicans Unite To Reject Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee

A key legislative committee rejected legalizing recreational marijuana by an 11 to 6 vote Tuesday, with Republicans and Democrats joining to defeat the measure.

The vote by the general law committee was considered the best chance for a legal marijuana bill to make it out of a legislative committee for consideration by the General Assembly.

The general law committee was deeply split with strong remarks on both sides for and against recreational marijuana before the measure was defeated.

The vote was a setback to advocates because the bill had been purposely steered to the general law committee this year in a change of strategy as the House co-chairman, Rep. Michael D’Agostino, was an advocate for legalization. The other two co-chairs, Sen. Carlo Leone of Stamford and Sen. Kevin Witkos of Canton, also voted in favor. But most of the rest of the committee ignored the views of the three co-chairmen and rejected the bill.

No Connecticut legislative committee has ever voted in favor of legalization, and the matter has failed during the past two years without any formal votes.

Leone, a Stamford Democrat, said the process is a long way from over because four different committees are considering various aspects of marijuana legalization. The general law committee focused only on certain aspects of the bill, including that it would allow the growing of six plants per individual and 12 plants per household.

“We did not try to tackle the legality of it,’’ Leone told fellow committee members. “We did not try to tackle the morality of it. … There’s still a ways to go.’’

But Leone told committee members that Connecticut should take action now because Massachusetts voters approved legalization of marijuana and the product is expected to be legally available there later this year.

“If we don’t confront it here and now, we will be confronting it down the road,’’ Leone said.

After the vote, Leone said that he had not expected the measure to pass.

But Sen. John Kissel, an Enfield Republican, said the state consumer protection department would need two years to develop regulations and would need to hire as many as 30 to 60 new employees to regulate marijuana. He said that it would be difficult to regulate under a bill that would have allowed 12 plants per household.

“It’s going to be the Wild West,’’ Kissel said before voting against the proposal.

Deputy Senate Republican leader Kevin Witkos, a former police officer in Canton, surprised some lawmakers by being in favor of the narrow bill, adding that he might vote later against marijuana legalization on the Senate floor.

“All this does is move it along into the next phase,’’ Witkos said. “Why shouldn’t we be debating it on the floor?’’

An outspoken Republican, Rep. Melissa Ziobron, said, “Alcohol is a killer. Cannabis has never killed anyone.’’

Besides Leone, Witkos, D’Agostino, and Ziobron, those in favor included Reps. David Arconti of Danbury and newly elected Bobby Gibson of Bloomfield.

"There's still a lot of issues that are on the legislators minds, so I didn't expect it to pass," Leone said. "I think the bill, as was mentioned, still has a long way to go but this gives us the opportunity to think for when that time comes, whether it's now, or some time in the future or far off in the future. At some point, we need to have a framework."

Before the vote, committee members said they disapproved of the process in which the legislation was brought up this session. Four committees took on different portions and some committee members argued it made the process frustrating.

Gibson, like Witkos, voted yes at the committee level but reserved the right to vote against the overall measure in the coming weeks.

“I know that it would bring more money to the state of Connecticut, but is this what we need to rely on?” Gibson asked. “I think there’s more discussion that needs to be had because there is some positives to this but there’s a lot, a lot of negatives.”

Deputy House Republican leader Vincent Candelora of North Branford said he disagreed with the decision to divide the marijuana bill into four separate areas.

“I have a problem with the way this year this whole structure has been done and the way we’re dealing with it,” Candelora said. “Rather than dealing with one bill, we have four committees raising bills in silos and dealing with issues separately. … If we’re true to form last year, the judiciary committee may not even have a vote, like they did last year. The public health committee didn’t even vote to draft a bill last year.”

He added, “In the future, we should have one public hearing, one vehicle and have that vehicle go around committee to committee so that it could address all the issues.’’

The legislature has already held two public hearings on marijuana, and the appropriations committee is scheduled to hold another hearing March 28.
Yeah? Well, they weren't two months ago...read post directly above ^^.

“The time for legalization of Marijuana has come. Doing so will raise revenue,......"

Course, then they started counting money and....you know how that goes.

Connecticut democrats announce support for marijuana legalization

After last week's announcement that the New York Democratic Party supports marijuana legalization, it appears more state parties are joining the cannabis legalization bandwagon, writes Joseph Misulonas.

The Connecticut Democratic Party approved a new part of their platform to include marijuana legalization. The new platform also calls on the state to release prisoners who were incarcerated for non-violent cannabis convictions.

The new platform reads the following in regards to marijuana, “The time for legalization of Marijuana has come. Doing so will raise revenue, which can be used to benefit those suffering from the disease of addiction to prescription pain medications and other opioids.”

Current Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy was in attendance when the new platform was approved. Malloy has opposed legalizing recreational marijuana while in office. However, he decided not to run for re-election this year, which opens the door to a more cannabis friendly governor next year. While Connecticut has not held its primary yet, the candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party, Ned Lamont, says he approves of legalizing recreational marijuana.

So it looks like we can add Connecticut to our watchlist of states that could legalize marijuana depending on how this November's elections turn out.

Connecticut adds eight new qualifying conditions for medical marijuana

Now that Connecticut added eight new qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program, more people can access the medicine they need.

Connecticut recently underwent a potentially important round of changes to its cannabis laws. In particular, state lawmakers recently expanded the medical marijuana program.

Now, as Connecticut adds eight new qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, officials expect to see an uptick in the number of patients joining the program.

Expanding the Medical Marijuana Program
Connecticut’s Regulation Review Committee, a group of lawmakers that oversees the state’s medical marijuana program, recently voted to expand the program.

In total, the committee voted to approve eight new medical marijuana health conditions. These include a handful of new conditions for adult patients. Similarly, the expansion also adds a couple of new health conditions for younger patients.

Adult patients 18 and older in Connecticut will now be able to use medical marijuana to treat:

Additionally, patients younger than 18 can now access and use medical marijuana to treat:

  • muscular dystrophy

  • brittle bone disease
Each of these conditions tend to produce a lot of pain. As such, state officials hope that medical marijuana can be an effective way to treat or decrease the pain experienced by patients with these conditions.

The Regulation Review Committee unanimously approved the new round of additions. Members of the committee told local news sources they expect to see many more patients enroll in the state’s medical marijuana program.

So far, officials do not have a precise guess at how many patients will join. But the state reportedly already has more than 27,000 medical marijuana patients. Similarly, there are nearly 1,000 doctors licensed to recommend medical marijuana to patients. Currently, there are nine medical marijuana dispensaries in Connecticut.

It’s unclear if this recent expansion to the program will necessitate additional production facilities or any new dispensaries. After this round of additions, Connecticut now allows patients to use medical marijuana to treat 30 health conditions.

Medical Marijuana in Connecticut
This is the latest change to cannabis laws in Connecticut. Prior to these changes, the state’s marijuana laws have remained relatively unchanged for several years.

In 2011, the state decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. In particular, the state downgraded marijuana possession from a criminal misdemeanor that could carry a year in jail and as much as a $1,000 fine, to a non-criminal violation and a $150 fine. Possession of large amounts of weed can still result in jail time and larger fines.

Following decriminalization, the state legalized medical marijuana in 2012. That year, the Senate approved medical marijuana in a 21-13 vote.

Since then, the state has not seen very many changes on the cannabis front. In fact, efforts to legalize recreational marijuana have so far failed to produce any significant legislative changes.

Earlier this year, state officials said they hoped to add more medical marijuana dispensaries. That initially seemed like a hopeful way to start the year, and subsequently, there was hope that lawmakers might legalize recreational weed this year, too.

Unfortunately for Connecticut’s cannabis community, legalization did not materialize this year. As legislative deadlines approached, lawmakers ended up focusing on other, non cannabis-related bills instead.
Legal MJ was rejected with a vote by both parties...see above article. Of course, Conn is soon to be surrounded by rec legal states and will miss out on tax revenue spent in other juridictions so what do the always money grubbing politicians do...they pretend yesterday never happened and oh my, they are now supporters of MJ.

I'll applaud any legalization movement, no matter how mendacious the political class is in passing it.

Democratic legislators will push liberal agenda of paid leave, minimum wage hike and pot

After making major gains at the polls, Democratic legislators are re-energized to push forward a liberal agenda they believe can be enacted next year under Gov.-elect Ned Lamont.

Democrats are advocating for key bills they are calling the Big Five: raising the minimum wage, enacting paid family and medical leave, erecting electronic highway tolls, approving sports betting and legalizing recreational marijuana.

General Assembly: Democrats Capture State Senate And Increase Majority In House »

Three of those items would raise money, and some moderate Democrats think those increases should be the bulk of the revenue raisers — rather than hiking a variety of other taxes as the state faces a projected deficit of $2 billion in the next fiscal year.

Democrats picked up 12 seats in the state House of Representatives for a 92-59 advantage. They also gained five seats in the state Senate for a 23-13 margin, breaking an 18-18 tie for the past two years that allowed Republicans to block plans for tolls, sports betting and legalized marijuana, as well as increases in taxes and spending.

Rep. Josh Elliott, one of the most outspoken liberal Democrats in the House, said he foresees the major liberal issues being approved.

“Of the 25 new legislators we have in the House, the vast majority will be in the favor of the Big Five,’’ Elliott said. “I think those Big Five will all get done. The question is: What’s next?’’

Elliott is looking ahead as the primary organizer of the Progressive Democratic Caucus, which he helped re-create after an 18-year hiatus. The informal liberal group has no official leader, but Elliott has been a driving force in the caucus that has 35 members and is now looking to expand to more than 45 members in January.

The group was planning to meet Sunday in New Haven to help plot strategy for the future, welcoming any legislator who wants to be part of the caucus.

While official votes were not held on the five major issues this year, Elliott thinks passage is likely next year because Democrats were just one vote short on tolls and the minimum wage. They were 17 votes short among House Democrats on marijuana legalization, he said.

Although some legislators want to move quickly on the key issues, the long process of public hearings and committee votes traditionally pushes important issues into May and June.

Lamont has repeatedly called for the legalization of recreational marijuana, but he said he has other immediate priorities when asked whether marijuana should be fast-tracked in Connecticut after retail sales recently started in Massachusetts.

“Look, my priority No. 1 is to get a budget, get people around that table, and get a budget that’s not meant to last for one year but a budget that helps us to have a blueprint for the next four and eight years,’’ Lamont said.

The two-year budget of more than $40 billion is expected to dominate the legislative session that starts when Lamont and legislators are sworn in on Jan. 9. Although the state’s rainy day fund is now expected to reach as high as $2.1 billion, the projected deficit in each of the next two years is expected to be at least $2 billion. the fiscal year that starts on July 1 is about $2 billion.

While liberals are optimistic about their newfound power, Republicans are alarmed, saying their plans will backfire and hurt the state.

Connecticut is currently ranked one of the worst business climates in the country. How are the things they’re pushing going to improve that? — State GOP Chairman J.R. Romano.
State Republican Chairman J.R. Romano said raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is a mistake. The current minimum wage in Connecticut is $10.10, far above the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

“Prices rise because of a higher minimum wage — a cup of coffee, groceries, gas,’’ Romano said. “You know who doesn’t get a raise? The nurse at Milford Hospital. That’s why it doesn’t work. Everything gets more expensive.’’

“Connecticut is currently ranked one of the worst business climates in the country,” he added. “How are the things they’re pushing going to improve that?’’

The elections caused major changes in the House and Senate, sweeping more liberals into the chambers. In addition, two of the most prominent conservative Democratic senators — Paul Doyle of Wethersfield and Gayle Slossberg of Milford — did not seek re-election. And several of the most fiscally conservative Republican senators — Len Suzio of Meriden, Toni Boucher of Wilton and L. Scott Frantz of Greenwich — were all swept out of office.

Rep. Danny Rovero of Killingly, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, also did not seek re-election. He has been an outspoken skeptic of sports betting and legalized marijuana, saying the state cannot try to balance its budget with gambling and pot.

Soul Searching Begins For Connecticut Republicans After Election Rout »

One new House member, Democrat Maria Horn of Salisbury, said the exact wording on the issues will be critical to whether or not they have enough support to pass.

“I’m in favor of all of them, but the devil is in the details,’’ said Horn, who defeated Republican Rep. Brian Ohler in northwestern Litchfield County.

As a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Horn has seen drug cases up close and says the social costs of alcohol are higher than marijuana.

“It is definitely a waste of prosecutorial resources to prosecute marijuana criminally,’’ Horn said. “My hesitation about completely legalizing marijuana across the board is I wouldn’t want to exacerbate our drug abuse problem. I am not in any rush to do this to cash a check’’ by taxing marijuana.

Julie Kushner, one of the new Senate Democrats, spent her entire career as a union organizer, retiring as the regional director of the United Auto Workers for New England and New York City.

“Clearly, part of my campaign was to educate people about paid family leave,” said Kushner, who defeated longtime Sen. Michael McLachlan of Danbury, one of the legislature’s most conservative members. “It will help working families right away — whether they have an illness or are having a baby. It has the immediate impact of helping families. I also think it’s good for the economy. Raising the minimum wage works in the same way — helping working families and helping the economy.”

Kushner, who broke a 24-year electoral winning streak by Republicans in her Senate district, said the money received by workers during paid leave will be spent locally and relatively quickly.

“They’re not going to be investing overseas,’’ she said. “They’re going to be spending it right back in the economy.”

But not all of the new Democrats are on board with each of the major issues. While Kushner strongly supports the Democratic agenda on paid family leave and the minimum wage, she has concerns about tolls, marijuana and sports betting.

“I am not in favor of tolls, and being in Danbury does have a lot to do with that,’’ said Kushner, referring to the city’s position bordering New York State. “It would cost locals so much to get on and off the highway. The other problem I have with tolls, to me, is trying to solve an economic problem from working-class and middle-class people. They can’t afford it.”

Kushner remains undecided on marijuana but is leaning in favor of legalization of small amounts. She also says she needs more information on sports betting.

Democrat Alexandra Bergstein of Greenwich, who defeated longtime Republican Sen. L. Scott Frantz, said she supports tolls, paid family leave and a living wage. But she opposes legalized marijuana because she has spent her career advocating for children’s health and safety.

“Research shows that marijuana can damage young brains that are not yet fully developed,’’ said Bergstein, who describes herself as an independent thinker who is fiscally conservative and socially progressive. “I would hate to see the normalization of drugs with adverse neurological impact. The argument that legalization would bring in revenue does not take into account the cost to human health and our children.’’

The precise wording of any bills on tolls is important for lawmakers. Lamont pledged during the campaign — and also since Election Day — that he wants to enact tolls only on large trucks, a move he says could raise about $250 million per year. A recent study by the state transportation department said Connecticut could raise $1 billion per year with tolls on all cars and trucks, depending on rates and presuming that tolls are collected approximately every 6 miles.

The top leaders in the legislature, including House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter all favor Lamont’s proposal for truck-only tolls. Looney has gone further and said he is in favor of tolling all vehicles to raise money to pay for road and bridge repairs.

Elliott, though, says the truck-only proposal was “just a campaign promise that may not be legally viable’’ because opponents argue it is unconstitutional to enact tolls on trucks but not cars. Rhode Island currently has truck-only tolls, but the truckers have filed a lawsuit to stop the practice.

Elliott said everyone who uses the roads should pay what is essentially a user fee. Connecticut drivers could receive a special discount, he said.

The toll bill, Elliott said, must ensure that the state is “not punishing the middle class and working poor.’’

9 new medical marijuana dispensaries opening in Connecticut

Nine new medical marijuana dispensaries are set to open up in Connecticut, bringing the total in the state to 18.

The State's Department of Consumer Protection announced the locations of the new facilities Tuesday as part of Connecticut's Medical Marijuana Program. The program has been expanded since 2012 when the a medical marijuana bill was signed. In 2014, medication became available to patients.

Today, there are over 30,000 patients with medical marijuana cards for 31 conditions. In 2016, there were about 8,000 patients.

One of the new locations, Affinity Health and Wellness, will be at 1351 Whalley Avenue. For those who live in New Haven and have a medical marijuana prescription, this is a game changer.

"This will be a blessing," Rochelle Jacobs told News 8. She and Maxine Jones both have medical marijuana cards.

"I have back problems and some problems with pain in my legs," Jacobs told News 8.

"I have a torn rotator cuff and arthritis in my back and knees," Jones added.

The two women will no longer have to travel all around the state to get their medications. Now, their doctor's office is right next to the future home of the medical marijuana dispensary.

"I don't have to go to so many different places like Meriden or Wallingford," Jacobs said. "It's on the bus line too."

"A lot of people it's helping and it's good," Jones continued.

Tommy's Tanning will be neighbors with the dispensary.

"Compared to all of the other states that have legalized marijuana, there revenues have gone up ten fold," Majla Isaku said. "They use all that extra money to go back to the state, education, fixing roads, I think all that extra money from the dispensaries could help the state a lot."

The area around the new location is residential and full of families and children which raises some concerns. For the most part, neighbors are on board.

"There are people right here with a family - right next door to me - I'm not sure if that would cause any issues for them," Rebekah Basquette said. "I think it's okay. I know they've had successes in California and other states, so it's going to be a busy corner."

Here's a list of the nine, new locations. There is no time frame for when they will be open.


First vote on recreational marijuana planned in Connecticut

Connecticut lawmakers are poised to cast the first vote of the legislative session on a bill that could legalize recreational marijuana in Connecticut.

The General Law Committee is scheduled to vote Monday on legislation establishing a new Cannabis Control Commission within the Department of Consumer Protection. It would regulate the industry, issue licenses and study outstanding issues, such as whether consumers should be able to grow their own marijuana.

The bill spells out many details of a proposed legalized system, such as limiting consumption to people who are at least 21 and prohibiting the sale of cannabis via products and packaging designed to attract children.

While several marijuana-related bills are under consideration, it remains unclear if legalization will ultimately pass.

Lawmakers in neighboring Rhode Island are also debating whether to legalize recreational marijuana.
Connecticut Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill In Key Committee

A key committee in the Connecticut legislature approved a bill to legalize marijuana on Monday.

The General Law Committee, which is one of two panels that heard testimony about legalization legislation last week, voted to advance the bill.

(The committee voted 8-6 to approve the bill, but is technically keeping the vote open until later on Monday afternoon so that members not present during the meeting can weigh in. The legislature’s official bill tracker sent a notification that the proposal was approved, but then rescinded that, although local media outlets are also reporting it passed. This story will be updated.)

Beyond legalizing cannabis for adult use, the legislation also includes a number of social equity provisions aimed at encouraging participation in the legal industry by individuals from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war. A governor-appointed commission would be charged with giving such individuals advance time to apply for a marijuana business license and promote diversity in hiring.

“At the end of the day, if we’re moving, it’s not about revenue. It’s about equity,” Rep. Juan Candelaria (D) said at the meeting. “It’s about ensuring that these communities that have been impacted, that we say we’re not going to stay idle anymore.”

The commission would also be required to study the potential impacts of allowing cannabis microbusinesses and a home cultivation option, which are not currently included in the bill. Delivery would be permitted, however.

While advocates generally support the bill, there are some outstanding concerns about the lack of a home grow option. The lack of specific licenses for delivery services and on-site consumption facilities is another sticking point.

“Marijuana prohibition was borne of misinformation and racism and it continues to be enforced unequally to this day,” Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, said at last week’s hearing.

It’s not yet clear whether the legislature will ultimately pass this proposal or a separate bill in the Senate, but if either does end up on the desk of Gov. Ned Lamont (D), he’s expected to sign. The governor called legalization one of his “priorities” last year and also discussed the issue during a budget speech last month.

The legislature’s Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on legalization legislation on Thursday.

A separate bill to revise the state’s medical cannabis program by adding opioid use disorder to the list of qualifying conditions and eliminating a registration certification fee for patients and caregivers was also approved by the General Law Committee on Monday.
They just don't get it....the electorate doesn't give a crap what they think. They will either legalize it or the citizens of Conn will just cross state borders to where it is legal. Soon, Conn will be surrounded by rec legal states. People will get their MJ, one way or the other. If Conn continues on this path, it will lose the revenue. So be it.

Recreational marijuana 10 votes from approval

Democrats need at least 10 more votes to pass recreational marijuana this year, legislative sources say.

Gov. Ned Lamont isn’t giving up on legalizing recreational cannabis this year, but he’s also not making it a priority as he focuses on getting tolls through the legislature by closing time on June 5.

The marijuana debate differs from the fight over tolls in one key way: Lamont is making tolls the centerpiece of his economic plan, complete with arm-twisting behind closed doors. By contrast, neither Lamont nor top legislative leaders are leaning hard on lawmakers to vote for legalized ganja.

“I think the legislature is taking more of the lead on that,” Lamont said Wednesday. “I’ll report back. I don’t want to leave that to the black market.”

That doesn’t mean it’s not the subject of horse-trading, but opposing adult nonmedical retail sales — or voting for it, among Republicans — isn’t going to land a lawmaker in the doghouse the way tolls will. As a conscience vote, it can collect some Republican support, but as one Democrat said, proponents aren’t counting on that.

They are counting likely votes, which break down as follows according to Rep. Josh Elliott, D-Hamden: In the House, 66 Democrats solidly in favor; nine against; and 16 on the fence. The Senate likely has the votes to get legal weed across the finish line, even with some negotiations expected, so the onus is on the House.

To win, supporters need at least 10 of those 16, or Republicans to replace Democratic naysayers. There are rumors about a couple of GOP supporters but no one in the minority party has declared public support.

House Majority Leader Matt Ritter said, to his knowledge, there is still not one Republican vote in favor of legalization, which would ease the burden on swaying some of the Democrats on the fence.

“No one wants to engage,” Ritter said. “Whatever happened to the libertarian moderate Connecticut Republican? Because it would be nice to have some of their votes on this issue.”

For those undecided Democrats, their concerns run the gamut from age restrictions, the inability to test drivers, expunged records for those who’ve been convicted of a marijuana-related felony, and where revenues would be targeted.

That means getting to a final piece of legislation will be a balancing act to keep both the moderate and progressive edges of the majority party satisfied, while at the same time pushing hard on higher priority issues in the final month of the session.

Rep. Joe Verrengia, D-West Hartford, chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee and a former cop, is undecided how he will vote on legalizing marijuana.

“The main concern that I have from a public safety standpoint with respect to marijuana is the driving piece of it, the drugged driving,” he said. “Law enforcement in general with its technology is not caught up to the extent that it needs to be with respect to the detection piece.”

As for whether legalization could be implemented as part of the overall budget bill, it’s unlikely so don’t count on seeing it there.

“I think that would be hard,” said House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin. “It’s a plus and minus situation, where you have some people who are no’s on that particular issue but would be a yes on the budget overall. For us to do that as leaders, it’s a pretty complex piece of the puzzle. You can put some enabling language, if we did do it, into the budget. But to put a straight up or down vote on that is tough.”

Emilie Munson and Dan Haar contributed to this story.
Top Connecticut Lawmakers Announce They’re Prioritizing Marijuana Legalization In 2020

Top Connecticut lawmakers said on Thursday that legalizing marijuana will be a legislative priority this year, with an emphasis on promoting social equity in a regulated market.

During a press conference outlining their agenda for the new session, Senate Democrats said that while progress has been made by decriminalizing simple possession of cannabis, Connecticut must catch up with public opinion and pursue adult-use legalization.

Senate President Pro-Tem Martin Looney (D) said “we believe it needs to come to resolution so that Connecticut can join its neighbors in recognizing a reality that we should have dealt with already but need to deal with now, and that is the issue of the legalization and regulation of cannabis in our state.”

While removing the threat of jail time for possession “addressed part of the problem,” the “fundamental question of legalization and regulation still persists,” he said. “I think it’s time that we caught up to what the public attitude and public will is on this subject and move forward with it this year.”

“The time has come. We know that there are very large numbers of Connecticut residents already traveling regulatory to Massachusetts to buy this product and bring it home with them. New York is considering it this year. Other states around us have,” Looney said. “I don’t think we want to put our heads in the sand and be in a position equivalent to a state that refused to recognize that prohibition of alcohol…was a failure and try to maintain prohibition after the national law changed.”

“I think the time has come. We need to recognize it. There’s broad based public support for it.”
Sen. Douglas McCrory (D), the deputy president pro-tem who serves on several committees that have had jurisdiction over cannabis issues, stressed the need to tackle what he described as the “three E’s,” which are “equity, expungement and economic opportunity.”

“It’s ironic right now that we’re thinking about passing legislation to sell and legalize cannabis to pay our bills when we had a number of people who have risked their lives to do the same thing to pay their bills,” he said. “If we’re going to be fair about this and have a conversation about this as we move forward, these things must be addressed.”

“If they’re not addressed, I don’t think we have a snowball’s chance to get this legislation passed,” McCrory added. “There are things that we can do in Connecticut right now this legislative session around those three E’s that can demonstrate to those people throughout Connecticut that we’re serious about addressing unjust laws that took place.”

Jason Ortiz, the Connecticut-based president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, told Marijuana Moment that “communities of color across Connecticut are lucky to have champions like Senator Doug McCrory and Senator Martin Looney, who are putting our communities first in line for economic opportunities in the cannabis industry.”

“This commitment to equity will ensure the program is successful by ensuring all of Connecticut’s communities will share in the wealth creation of this growing industry,” he said. “Now we just need House leadership to show the same courage and we’ll get this done in 2020.”

During the press conference, Looney also described three pieces of marijuana legislation that advanced in several committees last year, dealing with finance, restorative justice and regulations. He said that taken together, the bills “give us an excellent framework for moving forward on this issue.”

Cannabis legalization was one of eight proposals included in the lawmakers’ “A Smart & Responsible Connecticut” agenda, which is the third of four such plans they’re rolling out for the 2020 legislative session.

“The prohibition of the possession and sale of cannabis has failed in its intent to stop the sale or use of cannabis,” the document states. “The ‘war on drugs’ is a similar failure and has led to a staggering racial disparity when it comes to enforcement of laws criminalizing cannabis.”

“In 2020, the Senate Democratic Caucus will take action to legalize, tax and regulate the retail sale, personal growth and recreational use of cannabis by individuals over twenty-one years old,” it says.

Earlier this month, key committee leaders met to discuss a path forward for legalization legislation, and Looney and others have previously made similar comments predicting that reform will be prioritized and achievable this year. While bills to legalize cannabis for adult use cleared several panels during the 2019 session, disagreements about certain provisions such as how to allocate revenue ultimately derailed those efforts.

Gov. Ned Lamont (D), who’s been having ongoing conversations with the governors of neighboring states about coordinating a regional legalization model, is supportive of passing legalization legislation during the three-month session.

“I think the idea that we’d be isolated by ourselves and the idea that you hand this over to the black market is dangerous,” the governor said in a recent TV appearance. “You have no idea what they’re doing. You want a carefully regulated market.”

Marijuana reform is expected to be a hot topic throughout the Northeast in 2020.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) renewed his call for reform in his State of the State address and included legalization language in a budget proposal to lawmakers this week. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) included a proposal to legalize though a state-run model in her budget plan. New Hampshire lawmakers will pursue legislation for non-commercial cannabis legalization. New Jersey voters will decide on the issue in November’s election. And Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) seems more open to adding a regulated sales component to his state’s noncommercial legal marijuana law.
Top Connecticut Lawmakers File Marijuana Legalization Bill On Behalf Of Governor

A governor-backed marijuana legalization bill was introduced by Connecticut’s top lawmakers on Thursday.

The “Governor’s Bill,” filed by Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney (D) and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D), would allow adults 21 and older to possess and purchase up to one and a half ounces of cannabis from a licensed retailer.

The legislation’s introduction comes one day after Gov. Ned Lamont (D) renewed his call for marijuana legalization during his State of the State address and proposed a budget that includes funding to hire government employees to help establish a regulatory framework for cannabis.

There are several social equity provisions contained in the new legislation. It provides a pathway for individuals with prior cannabis convictions to have their records expunged, explicitly allows those with past convictions to participate in the industry and creates an equity application to support businesses operated by people from communities most harmed by the drug war.

Additionally, the 108-page bill would establish a nine-member “Cannabis Equity Commission” that would be tasked with promoting and encouraging “participation in the cannabis industry by persons from communities that have been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition and enforcement.”

The commission would be required to make recommendations on restorative justice policies by January 1, 2021, and would establish micro-licenses for cannabis retail and delivery operations.

“It’s clear this bill is intended to incorporate all the stakeholder feedback of last session to produce a robust plan of action and for that we applaud the governor,” Jason Ortiz, the Connecticut-based president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, told Marijuana Moment. “Where we see room for improvement is on the criminal justice provisions which must address releasing those currently incarcerated and providing re-entry services and economic opportunities for our returning friends and family members.”

There would be a three percent tax on retail marijuana sales. Retailers and manufacturers would be taxed $1.25 per dry weight gram of cannabis flower. Part of the tax revenue would go toward communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition.

Most employers would be prohibited from requiring a drug test for THC as a condition of employment, and they couldn’t otherwise discriminate against workers who use marijuana outside of the workplace.

Individual municipalities would be allowed to prohibit marijuana retail shops or “establish reasonable restrictions regarding the hours and signage” for those businesses, but they would not be able to bar delivery services from operating in their jurisdictions.

Regulators would be responsible for considering and making recommendations to lawmakers on a variety of cannabis policies. Among other issues, they would have to weigh in on whether adults should be able to cultivate marijuana for personal use, whether to allow on-site consumption or provide licenses for social consumption facilities and whether to “permit the establishment of state-run retailers.”

The state banking and insurance commissioners would be directed to report on cannabis business issues within their respective purviews by January 2021.

Existing registration fees for medical cannabis patients would be eliminated under the measure.

“2020 is already proving to be our best chance yet at getting a legalization bill through the legislature,” DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project Recent, told Marijuana Moment. “Recent polls have made it clear that Connecticuters support legalization. It is time for lawmakers to listen to the will of their constituents and end the decades-old policy failure of marijuana prohibition.”

The bill, which has been referred to the Joint Judiciary Committee, also lays out a variety of restrictions and penalties. For example, possessing more than the allowable amount but less than two ounces is punishable by a $150 fine for the first offense and between $200 and $500 for subsequent offenses.

There are multiple pages outlining protocol for identifying and prosecuting individuals for impaired driving.

The legislation contains restrictions on advertising and marketing, and it requires cannabis products to have warning labels.

While there are still areas to be worked out through regulators, the bill reflects a months-long effort to develop a cannabis system that promotes public health, equity and ensuring that residents stay in the state to purchase cannabis products. Lamont met with governors from neighboring states in December, and they agreed to basic principles of a regulated marijuana market across their jurisdictions.

Leading lawmakers in the Connecticut have said last month that they’re prioritizing legalization as part of the legislature’s 2020 agenda.

Three pieces of marijuana reform legislation advanced in several committees last year, dealing with finance, restorative justice and regulations, but they did not receive floor votes.

Also on Thursday, a separate governor-backed bill was introduced that deals directly with expungements.

Connecticut Governor Says Legalizing Marijuana Would Prevent COVID Spread By Reducing Travel To New Jersey

The governor of Connecticut says that legalizing marijuana in his state will bolster public health amid the coronavirus pandemic by preventing cannabis tourism to surrounding states as they pursue and enact the policy change.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance on Thursday, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said that officials have “got to think regionally when it comes to how we deal with the pandemic—and I think we have to think regionally when it comes to marijuana as well.”

“Right now I’m surrounded by states—you mentioned New Jersey, Massachusetts—where marijuana is already legal, and I don’t need a lot of people driving back and forth across the border,” he said. “We’re trying to keep people close to home as best we can right now, and I think legalizing marijuana and doing that safely, making sure that no poison is laced in there, I think it’s one way to keep people closer to home.”

New Jersey voters approved a referendum to legalize cannabis during Tuesday’s election, but it should be noted that marijuana possession, use and sales remain prohibited there until lawmakers approve enabling legislation for the program. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced on Friday the appointment of two top regulators for the cannabis system.

Asked by Yahoo whether he felt legalization could “boost” the state’s revenue amid the health crisis, Lamont didn’t directly respond, but he recognized bipartisan support for the reform move, as evidenced by the passage of legalization in traditionally red states on Election Day.

Beyond New Jersey, “even South Dakota voted to legalize marijuana,” the governor said, “as well as 15 other states where it’s legal right now. There’s a fair amount of history there.” (A combined 15 states, plus Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for adult use, though implementation is still pending in those states that voted in favor of the reform on Tuesday.)

Lamont said in a separate appearance on Thursday that the passage of cannabis legalization in New Jersey—in addition to ongoing marijuana reform efforts throughout the Northeast—underscores the need for his state to enact the policy change in a regionally coordinated manner.

Democrats increased their majority in Connecticut’s state legislature in this week’s elections, boosting the chances that legalization can get done in 2021. The governor said legalization and other policy issues are “on the table” and that the reform could bring in needed tax revenue.

He also discussed the regional implications of cannabis reform efforts is surrounding states. Taking a lesson from coordinated public safety safety policies between states amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Lamont said “my thinking is sort of similar when it comes to marijuana.”

“If we do something, we do it on a regional basis,” he said. “New Jersey has done this, Massachusetts is already legal, Rhode Island is looking at it, New York is looking at it—so I’ll be talking with my fellow governors about what, if anything, we want to do on a regional basis and then talking with the legislature as well.”

Prior to the pandemic, Lamont and the governors of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania met to discuss how best to implement cannabis legalization to promote public safety. Last year, they agreed to a set of principles for regulated marijuana markets.

Marijuana Legalization ‘Inevitable’ In Connecticut, Incoming House Speaker Says

A Connecticut lawmaker who will soon assume the top leadership position in the state House of Representatives said on Tuesday that marijuana legalization is “inevitable,” especially as surrounding jurisdictions move to enact the policy change.

During a briefing, House Speaker-designate Matt Ritter (D) was asked about plans to promote economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic and then specifically whether legalizing cannabis to generate tax revenue would be part of the plan.

“Look, I don’t want to get into a policy discussion. We have a caucus we have to have,” he said, referring to pending agenda-setting discussions with colleagues. “But marijuana has been a long time—I’ve said I believe it’s inevitable at some point, especially when your neighboring states are doing it.”

He added that “we don’t have revenues yet so it’s really hard to say where we’re going to be.”

While Ritter stopped short of committing to a timeline to pass legalization legislation, the remarks bode well for the prospects of reform in 2021.

The incoming House leader acknowledged that neighboring states are pursuing the marijuana policy change, adding pressure to pass similar legislation. There’s been ongoing talks about the need to coordinate legalization plans regionally—and those talks have been amplified since New Jersey voters approved a legalization referendum last week.

Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said last week that legalizing marijuana in his state will bolster public health amid the COVID-19 outbreak by preventing cannabis tourism to surrounding states, for example.

He said said officials have “got to think regionally when it comes to how we deal with the pandemic—and I think we have to think regionally when it comes to marijuana as well.”

Lamont and other policymakers in the region similarly said last week that the passage of cannabis legalization in New Jersey underscores the need for their states to advance the reform in a regionally coordinated manner.

Democrats increased their majority in Connecticut’s state legislature in last week’s elections, boosting the chances that cannabis legalization can get done in 2021. The governor said the reform is “on the table” and that it could bring in needed tax revenue.

Meanwhile, the majority leader of the Senate in neighboring Rhode Island said recently that the state should join others that have recently legalized marijuana, and other top lawmakers who have in recent years been reluctant to pursue the issue seem newly open to the idea as a way to boost the economy.

Prior to the pandemic, Lamont and the governors of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania met to discuss how best to implement cannabis legalization to promote public safety. Last year, they agreed to a set of principles for regulated marijuana markets.

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