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Law Connecticut

Baron23

Well-Known Member

Connecticut Lawmakers Will Put Marijuana Legalization On The Ballot If Legislature Rejects Bill


After years of failed attempts to legalize marijuana in Connecticut, top Democratic lawmakers announced on Tuesday that if the legislature again rejects a cannabis reform bill in the coming session, they’ll take the issue directly to state voters via a ballot referendum.


“I think it’ll be a very, very close vote in the House,” House Speaker-designate Matt Ritter (D) said at a press conference outside a medical marijuana dispensary. “But if we do not have the votes—and I’m not raising the white flag—I want to be very clear: We will put something on the board to put to the voters of the state of Connecticut to amend the state constitution to legalize marijuana.”


In a separate appearance last week, Ritter put 50–50 odds on cannabis legalization passing the state legislature in 2021 and earlier this month said the reform is “inevitable” in the state at some point. If it doesn’t have enough lawmaker support to pass next year, he said on Tuesday, voters could decide legalization through a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot as soon as 2022.





Efforts to legalize adult-use cannabis through Connecticut’s legislature over the past five years have repeatedly failed. During that time, however, a number of nearby states—including Maine, Vermont, New Jersey and neighboring Massachusetts—have passed legalization measures of their own. Other neighbors, including New York and Rhode Island, are currently weighing the issue. The state’s only other border is coastline.


At Tuesday’s press conference, lawmakers argued that the fact that Connecticut residents can now legally buy marijuana next door in Massachusetts—and soon elsewhere—has changed the political equation.


“Folks literally take something called a car,” Ritter quipped, “and they drive in their car and they buy it.”


Moreover, Connecticut in 2011 decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis, Ritter noted. “So not only are they going across the border, but they’re coming back to their homes and using it safely.” (However common, it remains illegal to transport marijuana across state lines.)


Also at Tuesday’s press conference, held outside state-licensed medical marijuana producer CT Pharma, was Rep. Michael D’Agostino (D), co-chair of the House General Law Committee.


“The foundation exists for adult-use cannabis in Connecticut,” D’Agostino said, alluding to the facility behind him. “The production facilities exist. The distribution facilities exist. The regulatory structure exists. A bill is drafted from last session. We are ready to go.”


Passage through the state legislature would be the speedier of the two options. “If the legislature shows the will to pass this this year,” D’Agostino said, “we can be up and running by the end of next year. And from there, it will be easy to bolt onto that opportunities for everyone.”


A legislative panel in March heard a legalization proposal but declined to vote on the bill. That measure would likely serve as the model for next session’s legislation.


Legalization through a voter-approved referendum, the lawmakers noted, would follow a considerably longer path. Qualifying a proposed amendment for the following election requires passing a joint resolution with a three-quarters majority vote in both the Senate and the House. Otherwise, a simple majority of lawmakers put an amendment on the ballot if they approve it in two separate legislative sessions.


That would likely mean the question wouldn’t appear before voters until “2022 or, worst-case, 2024,” Ritter said.


“If we had only done this two years ago,” he added, “we’d only be two years away.”


Clearly, putting the issue on the ballot if there aren’t enough votes to pass a legalization bill itself would require some lawmakers who are opposed to or skeptical about the issue to at least feel comfortable letting voters decide on it. That’s what happened in New Jersey, where the legislature couldn’t find enough support for legalizing cannabis on its own but was able to pass a resolution placing a cannabis referendum on the ballot.


Amid what’s expected to be a busy legislative session in Connecticut, incoming House Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D) said marijuana deserves to be on the calendar even though “this is not the most pressing issue we’re facing as a state.”


“Perhaps it’s the most nagging one,” he said.


November’s election could help seal the deal. Democrats will have bigger majorities than in past years when the 2021 legislative session kicks off, as the Hartford Courant noted, and leaders said Tuesday they’re already reaching out to new members.


“I think we need to have a bill that’s ready from day one so that we can go to our members who are a bit skeptical about this policy,” Rojas said, “so we can arm them with the best information possible, and a vision for it.”


Asked about opposition to the bill, Rojas was frank. “It’s a diverse body of legislators, and there’s a lot of differences of opinion,” he said. “There’s concerns about the impact on youth and the kind of message that it sends to youth. There are some who believe the impact on brain development should be taken into consideration and therefore the age should be 25 for adult use. It’s a complicated issue, like many of the issues that we face in the Capitol.”


Ritter urged Republican lawmakers to see the issue as one of personal liberty. “Where are my libertarian Republican friends? Where are they?” he asked. “If they’re not willing to vote for legalization, are they at least willing to put it to the voters?”


If put on the state ballot, Ritter predicted marijuana legalization would pass overwhelmingly. Nearly two-thirds (63.4 percent) of residents said they “strongly support” or “somewhat support” legalizing adult-use cannabis, according to a poll in March, while 29.5 percent said they “strongly oppose” or “somewhat oppose” it.


Ritter on Tuesday also downplayed the role of state tax revenue in his support for legalization, saying it alone wouldn’t balance the budget. Instead, he said, he’s motivated by having a coherent policy with neighboring states, ensuring products are safe and addressing racial disparities in cannabis policing.


Gov. Ned Lamont (D), who supports legalization, also said this month that the policy change could potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting out-of-state trips to buy marijuana.


Revenue from legalization in Connecticut would go toward education as well as an equity fund that would invest in communities disproportionately impacted by the drug war under the draft bill, the lawmakers said Tuesday. Municipalities could tack on additional taxes or fees, or they could vote to keep legal marijuana businesses out of their jurisdictions completely.


Voters across the country on Election Day approved every major drug-reform measure on state ballots, a sweep that’s since spurred action in neighboring states.


In many states where cannabis was on the ballot, legalization got more votes than either Donald Trump’s or Joe Biden’s presidential bids.


Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told Marijuana Moment after Election Day that the overwhelming results are also likely to encourage reform at the federal level.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Connecticut Governor Includes Marijuana Legalization Plan In Budget Proposal


The governor of Connecticut released a budget request on Wednesday that includes a plan to legalize marijuana. But while the proposal places an emphasis on social equity, advocates are expressing expressing concerns about the lack of specifics so far.

Gov. Ned Lamont (D), who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, said his budget plan will involve establishing a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”

“The proposal builds on the significant work that the Legislature has done on adult-use cannabis in recent sessions and ensures alignment with the approaches pursued by regional states,” a summary of the plan states.

During his budget speech, the governor noted that “our neighboring states are offering recreational marijuana on a legal and regulated basis,” and Connecticut is losing out on tax revenue that could be generated by following suit.

“Rather than surrender this market to out-of-staters, or worse, to the unregulated underground market, our budget provides for the legalization of recreational marijuana,” he said. “These additional revenues will go to distressed communities, which have been hardest hit by the war on drugs.”

The Lamont administration, which has recently been circulating a draft legalization bill for feedback, said in the written summary of the legalization proposal that it hopes Connecticut will become “the first state to create a truly equitable cannabis industry.”

But the details of how communities most impacted by the war on drugs could gain from the legal industry would be mostly determined after officials receive a report from a new equity commission.

“The commission will be given the important charge to develop guidelines and proposals regarding how individuals and neighborhoods that have been most affected by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition can benefit from the creation of a legal market,” the summary says.

Jason Ortiz, the Connecticut-based president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and a member of Lamont’s cannabis equity task force, told Marijuana Moment that the details of how the legal market is implemented will matter.

“The recommendations from the task force were clear and I’m hopeful the governor heard us, but saying you support equity is not the same as backing it up with systemic change and robust investment,” he said.

“I still think we have fundamental disagreements over what equity means but look forward to analyzing the details,” he said, adding that he plans to review “every line of this bill” and will work with lawmakers and stakeholders to make sure that “the final policy that passes in Connecticut puts equity first in language and in dollars.”

The Marijuana Policy Project’s DeVaughn Ward said the proposal “is a solid starting point to began negotiations with the legislature.”

“I’m encouraged to see the inclusion of an expungement provision, a micro-business and delivery license type, an equity applicant, and a sizable portion of the revenue directed towards equity and communities of color,” he told Marijuana Moment. “The governor’s proposal keeps me optimistic that consensus on this complex issue can be reached this year.”

In broad stokes, the summary of Lamont’s plan makes the case that the current approach to criminalizing marijuana has been a harmful failure.

“Cannabis prohibition has not worked,” the 10-page document says. “It has failed to protect public health and safety, and instead has caused significant injustices for many residents, especially people in black and brown communities because of enforcement laws.”

“With legal cannabis available, or soon to be in neighboring states, Governor Lamont has made the decision to introduce legislation that would create a legal market for cannabis in Connecticut that is well-regulated to protect consumers and the public at large, will reduce the size and influence of the black market, and prevent economic loss from residents crossing borders to neighboring states.”

Here are some other key provisions of the budget proposal:

-Adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana. Homegrow would not be permitted, but penalties for personal cultivation would be reduced and the state Department of Consumer Protection would be charged with studying the policy. Possession of between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces would be an infraction, while possession above 2.5 ounces would be a class C misdemeanor. People under 21 who possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis would face infractions, not misdemeanors.

-Regulators would be responsible for approving licenses for “cultivators, retailers, hybrid medical/adult-use retailers, microcultivators, product manufacturers, food and beverage manufacturers, product packagers and delivery services.” In the initial stage, licenses will be approved via a lottery system. Existing medical cannabis businesses could convert to recreational “for a substantial fee.”

-Adult-use cannabis sales would launch in May 2022. A standard sales tax and an excise tax ($1.25 per gram of flower) would be imposed on marijuana sales. Local municipalities that allow cannabis businesses to operate in their areas would be able to impose an additional three percent tax.

-In fiscal year 2023, “an estimated $33.6 million in revenue will be generated from the cannabis market, growing to $97.0 million by FY 2026,” the summary says. Starting in fiscal year 2024, half of the excise tax revenue “will be intercepted for municipal aid and social equity.”

-Marijuana-related convictions from before October 2015 would be automatically expunged. “The legalization of cannabis possession and the erasure of prior convictions will help erase some of the disproportionate impact of the War on Drugs on our state’s Black and brown communities,” the plan states.

-Law enforcement would not be able to conduct searches, stops or seizures based on the odor of cannabis, except in the context of impaired driving.

-People could not be denied professional licenses from the state because of their work in the cannabis industry or use of marijuana.

-To ensure that the program meets public safety standards, the governor is proposing to add 64 jobs to the consumer protection department. One unique component would involve having “secret shoppers” inspect cannabis businesses to ensure compliance.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. But while those stalled, there’s increased optimism that 2021 is the year for reform.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address last month, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) said in November that legalization in the state is “inevitable.” He added later that month that “I think it’s got a 50–50 chance of passing [in 2021], and I think you should have a vote regardless.”

Should that effort fail, Ritter said he will move to put a constitutional question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member

Connecticut Governor Includes Marijuana Legalization Plan In Budget Proposal


The governor of Connecticut released a budget request on Wednesday that includes a plan to legalize marijuana. But while the proposal places an emphasis on social equity, advocates are expressing expressing concerns about the lack of specifics so far.

Gov. Ned Lamont (D), who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, said his budget plan will involve establishing a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”

“The proposal builds on the significant work that the Legislature has done on adult-use cannabis in recent sessions and ensures alignment with the approaches pursued by regional states,” a summary of the plan states.

During his budget speech, the governor noted that “our neighboring states are offering recreational marijuana on a legal and regulated basis,” and Connecticut is losing out on tax revenue that could be generated by following suit.

“Rather than surrender this market to out-of-staters, or worse, to the unregulated underground market, our budget provides for the legalization of recreational marijuana,” he said. “These additional revenues will go to distressed communities, which have been hardest hit by the war on drugs.”

The Lamont administration, which has recently been circulating a draft legalization bill for feedback, said in the written summary of the legalization proposal that it hopes Connecticut will become “the first state to create a truly equitable cannabis industry.”

But the details of how communities most impacted by the war on drugs could gain from the legal industry would be mostly determined after officials receive a report from a new equity commission.

“The commission will be given the important charge to develop guidelines and proposals regarding how individuals and neighborhoods that have been most affected by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition can benefit from the creation of a legal market,” the summary says.

Jason Ortiz, the Connecticut-based president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and a member of Lamont’s cannabis equity task force, told Marijuana Moment that the details of how the legal market is implemented will matter.

“The recommendations from the task force were clear and I’m hopeful the governor heard us, but saying you support equity is not the same as backing it up with systemic change and robust investment,” he said.

“I still think we have fundamental disagreements over what equity means but look forward to analyzing the details,” he said, adding that he plans to review “every line of this bill” and will work with lawmakers and stakeholders to make sure that “the final policy that passes in Connecticut puts equity first in language and in dollars.”

The Marijuana Policy Project’s DeVaughn Ward said the proposal “is a solid starting point to began negotiations with the legislature.”

“I’m encouraged to see the inclusion of an expungement provision, a micro-business and delivery license type, an equity applicant, and a sizable portion of the revenue directed towards equity and communities of color,” he told Marijuana Moment. “The governor’s proposal keeps me optimistic that consensus on this complex issue can be reached this year.”

In broad stokes, the summary of Lamont’s plan makes the case that the current approach to criminalizing marijuana has been a harmful failure.

“Cannabis prohibition has not worked,” the 10-page document says. “It has failed to protect public health and safety, and instead has caused significant injustices for many residents, especially people in black and brown communities because of enforcement laws.”

“With legal cannabis available, or soon to be in neighboring states, Governor Lamont has made the decision to introduce legislation that would create a legal market for cannabis in Connecticut that is well-regulated to protect consumers and the public at large, will reduce the size and influence of the black market, and prevent economic loss from residents crossing borders to neighboring states.”

Here are some other key provisions of the budget proposal:

-Adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana. Homegrow would not be permitted, but penalties for personal cultivation would be reduced and the state Department of Consumer Protection would be charged with studying the policy. Possession of between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces would be an infraction, while possession above 2.5 ounces would be a class C misdemeanor. People under 21 who possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis would face infractions, not misdemeanors.

-Regulators would be responsible for approving licenses for “cultivators, retailers, hybrid medical/adult-use retailers, microcultivators, product manufacturers, food and beverage manufacturers, product packagers and delivery services.” In the initial stage, licenses will be approved via a lottery system. Existing medical cannabis businesses could convert to recreational “for a substantial fee.”

-Adult-use cannabis sales would launch in May 2022. A standard sales tax and an excise tax ($1.25 per gram of flower) would be imposed on marijuana sales. Local municipalities that allow cannabis businesses to operate in their areas would be able to impose an additional three percent tax.

-In fiscal year 2023, “an estimated $33.6 million in revenue will be generated from the cannabis market, growing to $97.0 million by FY 2026,” the summary says. Starting in fiscal year 2024, half of the excise tax revenue “will be intercepted for municipal aid and social equity.”

-Marijuana-related convictions from before October 2015 would be automatically expunged. “The legalization of cannabis possession and the erasure of prior convictions will help erase some of the disproportionate impact of the War on Drugs on our state’s Black and brown communities,” the plan states.

-Law enforcement would not be able to conduct searches, stops or seizures based on the odor of cannabis, except in the context of impaired driving.

-People could not be denied professional licenses from the state because of their work in the cannabis industry or use of marijuana.

-To ensure that the program meets public safety standards, the governor is proposing to add 64 jobs to the consumer protection department. One unique component would involve having “secret shoppers” inspect cannabis businesses to ensure compliance.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. But while those stalled, there’s increased optimism that 2021 is the year for reform.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address last month, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) said in November that legalization in the state is “inevitable.” He added later that month that “I think it’s got a 50–50 chance of passing [in 2021], and I think you should have a vote regardless.”

Should that effort fail, Ritter said he will move to put a constitutional question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.
Do they actually have a choice? I mean, they are surrounded by legal or just about to be legal states...
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Marijuana Legalization Bill Has ’60-40′ Odds Of Passing, Connecticut Governor Says, Adding He’s Open To Homegrow


The governor of Connecticut says he thinks the odds of his marijuana legalization bill passing this session are 60-40—and he’s not ruling out signing the legislation even if it’s amended to allow for home cultivation.

Gov. Ned Lamont (D) was asked about the prospects of his proposal advancing during an interview with WPLR on Monday. He said that while the issue has proven “surprisingly controversial” in the legislature—in part because lawmakers get “a little shaky” when they receive messages from opponents—”I think it’s going to pass.”

“We really give a lot of moms and dads comfort that it really leads again with public health,” the governor said of his cannabis measure, which he included as part of his budget last month. “We regulate how it’s distributed. We regulate what goes into it. We regulate the potency [and] make sure poisons can’t get into it. I think people feel more comfortable with our bill.”

The radio host replied that it “sounds like you wouldn’t be interested in the home growers part of it.” Lamont’s bill as introduced would continue to criminalize people who cultivate their own cannabis.

“Well, that’s so—only because every home grower grows their own thing and then they sell a little bit to their friends so you don’t know what’s in it,” Lamont said. “But, you know, I grew up in the 70s, so I also don’t see it at the end of the world so we’ll see where it ends up.”

One legalization advocate saw Lamont’s comments as an opening.

“I’m excited to work with the governor’s team to ensure homegrow is fairly and safely regulated,” Jason Ortiz, a drug policy advocate who served as chair of the governor’s cannabis licensing working group last year, told Marijuana Moment. “Homegrow can be kept away from children and safe as a tomato if done right.”

The lack of home growing rights is one of several provisions of the governor’s plan that advocates have identified as problematic as they push for reform legislation that more comprehensively addresses social equity.

Lamont was also asked about that component of his bill in the radio interview, specifically as it concerns social equity licensing to promote diverse participation in the cannabis market.

“Look, I think equity has got a big piece of this thing. Those underserved communities were a hit, hit hard. Now the question is, we provide money for those distressed communities—do you do it through the mayor’s office? Some people say, ‘I don’t like the mayor’s office,'” he said. “We provide startup monies for folks in those communities so they can start up their own businesses. I think the answer to that is, yes, but these are communities we’re going to pay special attention to.”

That response didn’t directly address the licensing question, however. The governor’s legislation would give existing medical marijuana dispensaries in the state a significant advantage, which could limit the ability of small businesses, and particularly people from communities most impacted by the drug war, to enter the industry.

“With homegrow in the bill I think the chances go from 60/40 to 80/20,” Ortiz told Marijuana Moment. “The last 20 percent will be about the final details on equity license set-asides. From there I think we got a winning bill.”
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Connecticut Lawmakers Approve Governor’s Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee


A bill to legalize marijuana in Connecticut that’s being backed by the governor was approved by a key committee on Tuesday—but it “remains a work in progress,” the chairman said.

The legislation, which has been amended since its introduction to include a series of new social equity provisions, advanced through the legislature’s Judiciary Committee after a 22-16 vote.

But it’s not the only legalization bill that lawmakers are considering. A competing proposal from Rep. Robyn Porter (D) was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee last month.

With the new amendments to Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) bill, the measures are more closely aligned.

“I would submit that that is long overdue here in the state of Connecticut for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that this is a drug that is widely believed to be less addictive and less harmful to the body than many other drugs that we already have legalized and regulate here in the state of Connecticut, including tobacco and alcohol,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Steven Stafstrom (D) said in his opening remarks.

But he reiterated throughout the hearing that while the governor’s bill is “further along and takes into account some of the concerns and criticisms of the bill we heard,” it is “not the end of the conversation.”

“I’m sure we’ll see additional revisions as it moves through the legislative process and its next committee of assignment,” Stafstrom said, adding that it would likely be referred to the Finance Committee next.

As revised, the governor’s legislation would set aside 40 percent of eligible cannabis business license types for social equity applicants.

To qualify as a social equity applicant, a business must have at least 51 percent ownership by a person with a cannabis-related arrest or conviction, someone whose immediate family faced such a conviction, whose lived in a “disproportionately affected community” for five of the past 10 years or who is a resident of tribal land. A social equity applicant can also be a business under day-to-day management by such persons who meet the criteria. Advocates say it shouldn’t be an either/or standard, however, and that communities that were harmed by the drug war must be among those who stand to benefit by actually owning legal cannabis businesses.

The Department of Consumer Protection would be responsible for regulating the market, and they could begin accepting applications for social equity business applicants starting on July 1. Existing medical cannabis dispensaries could also start having adult-use business license applications at that time. Starting in January 2024, the department could accept applications from any person.

A Cannabis Control Commission would further develop guidelines for the issuance of licenses. Meanwhile, a 12-member Social Equity Council would be established to help develop equity criteria, licensing policy and tax revenue allocation.

In general, the bill would allow adults 21 and older to purchase marijuana products from licensed retailers, possess up to one and a half ounces of cannabis on one’s person and up to five ounces in a person’s home.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Connecticut Lawmakers Hold Marijuana Meeting With Governor’s Office As New Poll Shows Majority Support For Legalization


Legislative leaders will meet with the office of Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) on Tuesday to continue negotiating a plan to legalize marijuana in the state—a development that comes as a new poll shows majority support for the policy change among voters.

With the legislative session ending on June 9, there’s a sense of urgency to enact the reform, which has long been a goal of the Lamont administration and top lawmakers. They’ve held several meetings to reach an agreement about what a legal cannabis market should look like, but there are still some sticking points that need to be resolved.

House Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D) said negotiations are currently centering on who would qualify as a social equity applicant. Getting that designation would come with benefits in the cannabis business licensing process.

“We’re working with the administration. We have a meeting lined up for this evening. We’ve certainly gotten some edits from the administration that we were able to consider,” he said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

“We’re really finalizing on getting down to the definition of an equity applicant. I think that’s been the primary goal for folks on both sides of the discussion,” he said. “We do have a definition that we’ll share with the administration so that we can move forward from there.”

Given the tight deadline legislators are facing—in addition to the progress being made in negotiations—House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) said earlier this month that the legislature would be open to taking up the issue in a special session to resolve differences between the legalization bills that have been put forward by lawmakers and Lamont.

The governor’s chief of staff said that administration officials have been “meeting with legislative negotiators,” and they’re “waiting for them to provide us a revised draft” of a reform bill. It appears that lawmakers are making some progress toward that goal with Rojas saying they will present the governor’s office with a new equity definition on Tuesday evening.

Advocates are pleased to see the high-level discussions reaching the point of nailing down what kind of cannabis business constitutes an equity applicant.

“Defining equity has always been at the heart of the legalization conversation and I’m encouraged that our legislative champions are laser focused on getting this right,” Jason Ortiz, the policy director for the pro-legalization advocacy group CURE CT and a member of a legalization working group assembled by Lamont that issued recommendations on social equity. “This is the hard part, but getting here is a strong sign we are close to final language and that’s incredibly exciting.”

According to a new poll, Connecticut voters are done waiting for legalization to happen.

Sixty-four percent of residents in the state favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, the surveyfrom Sacred Heart University that was released on Tuesday found.

Further, 76 percent of respondents said that marijuana has the same or fewer effects compared to alcohol. And 62 percent said they favor expunging prior cannabis convictions.

They survey involved interviews with 1,000 residents from April 20-26. And the results are consistent with past polling on the subject.

A bill to legalize marijuana for adult use that the governor proposed as part of his budget cleared the Judiciary Committee last month after being amended by the panel. But if a legalization measure isn’t enacted this year, Lamont said earlier this month that he anticipates that the issue could go before voters.

“Marijuana is sort of interesting to me. When it goes to a vote of the people through some sort of a referendum, it passes overwhelmingly. When it goes through a legislature and a lot of telephone calls are made, it’s slim or doesn’t pass,” the governor said. “We’re trying to do it through the legislature. Folks are elected to make a decision, and we’ll see where it goes. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up in a referendum.”

Ritter similarly said last year that if the legislature isn’t able to pass a legalization bill, he will move to put a question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.

A competing legalization measure from Rep. Robyn Porter (D), which is favored by many legalization advocates for its focus on social equity, was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee in March.

Lamont, who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, initially described his legalization plan as a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”

But while advocates have strongly criticized the governor’s plan as inadequate when it comes to equity provisions, Ritter said in March that “optimism abounds” as lawmakers work to merge proposals into a final legalization bill.

Rojas also said that “in principle, equity is important to both the administration and the legislature, and we’re going to work through those details.”

To that end, the majority leader said that working groups have been formed in the Democratic caucuses of the legislature to go through the governor’s proposal and the committee-approved reform bill.

In February, a Lamont administration official stressed during a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee that Lamont’s proposal it is “not a final bill,” and they want activists “at the table” to further inform the legislation.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. Those bills stalled, however.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address in January, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

Ritter said in November that legalization in the state is “inevitable.” He added later that month that “I think it’s got a 50–50 chance of passing [in 2021], and I think you should have a vote regardless.” The governor said in an interview earlier this year that he puts the odds of his legislation passing at “60-40 percent chance.”

The governor has compared the need for regional coordination on marijuana policy to the coronavirus response, stating 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.”

He also said that legalization in Connecticut could potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting out-of-state trips to purchase legal cannabis in neighboring states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Connecticut Marijuana Legalization Deal Expected This Week, Top Lawmaker Says


A top Connecticut lawmaker said on Monday that he expects to reach a deal with the governor on a bill to legalize marijuana by the end of the week.

For weeks, legislators have been negotiating with Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) office on the details of the legislation, working to resolve a proposal put forward by the governor earlier this year with a separate measure favored by activists. Now an agreement appears to be imminent.

“I think we have a general agreement in terms of the important issues that have been out there for most of the session, which is getting around this definition of an equity applicant and ensuring that equity is the basis for passing that bill,” House Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D) said in a briefing with reporters.

“We’re going to continue to hopefully meet today and tomorrow,” he said. “I’m hoping to have a some more formalized agreement by the end of this week.”

With the legislative session ending on June 9, there’s a sense of urgency to enact the reform. Given that deadline, House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) said earlier this month that the legislature would be open to taking up the issue in a special session.

Ritter said on Monday that Rojas spends “seven hours going line by line” through the bill each day to ensure that equity is a fixture of the legalization bill. That’s welcome news for advocates who expressed early criticism of Lamont’s proposal over its lack of focus on repairing the harms of the drug war.

“This deal has been a long time coming, but I’m excited that after hearing from impacted communities and equity experts, our leadership is ready to get this done,” Jason Ortiz, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, told Marijuana Moment.

“We all win with an equitable market and it’s exciting to hear our work has paid off and we are ready to move our state forward, together,” Ortiz, who is also the policy director for the pro-legalization advocacy group CURE CT and served as a member of a legalization working group assembled by Lamont that issued recommendations on social equity, said.

The governor’s chief of staff recently said that administration officials have been “meeting with legislative negotiators,” and they’re “waiting for them to provide us a revised draft” of a reform bill.

A bill to legalize marijuana for adult use that Lamont proposed as part of his budget cleared the Judiciary Committee last month after being amended by the panel. But if a legalization measure isn’t enacted this year, Lamont said earlier this month that he anticipates that the issue could go before voters.

“Marijuana is sort of interesting to me. When it goes to a vote of the people through some sort of a referendum, it passes overwhelmingly. When it goes through a legislature and a lot of telephone calls are made, it’s slim or doesn’t pass,” the governor said. “We’re trying to do it through the legislature. Folks are elected to make a decision, and we’ll see where it goes. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up in a referendum.”

Ritter similarly said last year that if the legislature isn’t able to pass a legalization bill, he will move to put a question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.

According to recent polling, if legalization did go before voters, it would pass.

Sixty-four percent of residents in the state favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, a survey from Sacred Heart University that was released last week found.

A competing legalization measure from Rep. Robyn Porter (D), which is favored by many legalization advocates for its focus on social equity, was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee in March.

Lamont, who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, initially described his legalization plan as a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”

But while advocates have strongly criticized the governor’s plan as inadequate when it comes to equity provisions, Ritter said in March that “optimism abounds” as lawmakers work to merge proposals into a final legalization bill.

Rojas also said that “in principle, equity is important to both the administration and the legislature, and we’re going to work through those details.”

To that end, the majority leader said that working groups have been formed in the Democratic caucuses of the legislature to go through the governor’s proposal and the committee-approved reform bill.

In February, a Lamont administration official stressed during a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee that Lamont’s proposal it is “not a final bill,” and they want activists “at the table” to further inform the legislation.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. Those bills stalled, however.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address in January, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

Ritter said in November that legalization in the state is “inevitable.” He added later that month that “I think it’s got a 50–50 chance of passing [in 2021], and I think you should have a vote regardless.” The governor said in an interview earlier this year that he puts the odds of his legislation passing at “60-40 percent chance.”

The governor has compared the need for regional coordination on marijuana policy to the coronavirus response, stating 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.”

He also said that legalization in Connecticut could potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting out-of-state trips to purchase legal cannabis in neighboring states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Connecticut Marijuana Legalization Deal In Question Following Progressive Pushback As Session’s End Nears


As top Connecticut lawmakers work to wrap up negotiations for an expedited vote on a marijuana legalization bill with the end of the session looming, progressive Democrats are tempering expectations about the timeline and insisting that any finalized proposal must comprehensively address social equity.

House Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D) said on Tuesday that leadership hopes to finalize the legislation by Tuesday, with a vote in the Senate possible “later this week.”

Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) office and lawmakers have been frequently meeting to negotiate the details of the reform proposal. But time is running short, with the end of the session coming on June 9, and neither the governor nor leadership are particularly interested in coming back to tackle the issue in a special session.

If progressives are going to get on board, however, extra time may be needed. An initial caucusing of members late last week resulted in pushback, as lawmakers said they did not want to sign on to legalization in concept without seeing actual legislative text to ensure that it effectively addresses the harms of the drug war.

“We really have to see some of the sticking points around the equity, around expungement, around members of the community that have been impacted by this war on drugs, having access to seed-to-sale economic opportunity and also home grow,” Rep. Anne Hughes (D), cochair of the Progressive Caucus, told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview on Tuesday. “We either end prohibition on cannabis or we don’t.”

“I keep saying, I think the governor’s team is all about how much racism do we get to keep in this scenario?” she said, referencing policies that her caucus feel do not adequately address the harms of the drug war. “It’s like, no, we want to do it right.”

Last week, the legislature’s joint Appropriations Committee approved a legalization bill backed by Lamont—the second panel to advance it since its introduction. The action action sets up the bill for floor action, though the plan is to amend it there to reflect whatever deal negotiators ultimately arrive at.

Rojas said on Tuesday that “we’re looking to finalize, wrap up language on the remaining items that are there” by the day’s end.

“I was in contact with individuals over the weekend just trying to address any individual concerns that a member might have,” Rojas said. “In speaking with members, there’s a lot of maybes about whether they’re gonna vote yes or no on it—and we can’t really get that answer until we get the final language and are able to present to them a complete package of what a regulated, adult-use cannabis system would look like in a state of Connecticut.”

Hughes told Marijuana Moment that “the governor wants it bad, and we want it right.”

Adding to the challenge is the fact that lawmakers are still working to tackle a number of other policy priorities, including those concerning health care and unemployment benefits that have been held over due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s a big backlog of really important, critical stuff,” she said. “This is important, but it’s important we get it right.”

Asked for his latest thinking on the prospects of legalization passing before the end of the session next week, House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) seemed less optimistic on Tuesday than he has in recent briefings, stressing that the legislature still needs to deal with the budget.

“I don’t know. You can’t get them all right, but we’re working through it. The majority leader is working hard, and I don’t really know,” he said. “The one thing the legislature does is the budget, and so until you get this wrapped up, it just puts a hold on so many other bills and so many other topics.”

Ritter said last week that he feels there’s a 57-43 chance that the legislation is approved, whereas he previously gave it a 50-50 chance. But it’s uncertain whether he feels those odds have changed given the time restraints and pushback from Democratic members.

Negotiations with the governor’s office have largely centered on social equity of late, and Rojas said the policy is about “ensuring that entrance of the marketplace is able to be accessed by communities and individuals who live in the communities who have been most impacted by the war on drugs.”

Meanwhile, the governor said recently that he and legislative leaders are having “good, strong negotiations,” and there’s “broad agreement” on policies concerning public health and safety. There’s “growing agreement” with respect to using marijuana tax revenue to reinvest in communities disproportionately harmed by prohibition.

If a legalization measure isn’t enacted this year, Lamont said last month that the issue could ultimately go before voters.

“Marijuana is sort of interesting to me. When it goes to a vote of the people through some sort of a referendum, it passes overwhelmingly. When it goes through a legislature and a lot of telephone calls are made, it’s slim or doesn’t pass,” the governor said. “We’re trying to do it through the legislature. Folks are elected to make a decision, and we’ll see where it goes. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up in a referendum.”

Ritter similarly said last year that if the legislature isn’t able to pass a legalization bill, he will move to put a question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.

According to recent polling, if legalization did go before voters, it would pass.

Sixty-four percent of residents in the state favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, a survey from Sacred Heart University that was released last week found.

A competing legalization measure from Rep. Robyn Porter (D), which is favored by many legalization advocates for its focus on social equity, was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee in March.

Lamont, who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, initially described his legalization plan as a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”

But while advocates have strongly criticized the governor’s plan as inadequate when it comes to equity provisions, Ritter said in March that “optimism abounds” as lawmakers work to merge proposals into a final legalization bill.

Rojas also said that “in principle, equity is important to both the administration and the legislature, and we’re going to work through those details.”

To that end, the majority leader said that working groups have been formed in the Democratic caucuses of the legislature to go through the governor’s proposal and the committee-approved reform bill.

In February, a Lamont administration official stressed during a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee that Lamont’s proposal it is “not a final bill,” and they want activists “at the table” to further inform the legislation.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. Those bills stalled, however.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address in January, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

The governor has compared the need for regional coordination on marijuana policy to the coronavirus response, stating 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.”

He also said that legalization in Connecticut could potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting out-of-state trips to purchase legal cannabis in neighboring states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
New Connecticut Marijuana Legalization Bill Released, With Votes Expected This Week

Connecticut legislative leaders introduced a sweeping new marijuana legalization bill late on Saturday, a day after announcing they’d reached a deal with the governor. A vote on the 297-page measure is expected within days, ahead of a mid-week legislative deadline.

The new proposal includes significant concessions to social equity advocates, who’ve criticized the legalization plan introduced by Gov. Ned Lamont (D) earlier this year as well as details of floated proposals that emerged during the negotiations. The changes are likely to curry favor among at least some progressive Democrats in the legislature, who previously signaled they might oppose the policy change.

House Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D) and Speaker Matt Ritter (D) have been negotiating with Lamont’s office for weeks on the compromise bill. They finally said on Friday morning that they had secured a “pencils down” agreement, and on Saturday promised the bill’s language would be public by the end of the day. It posted to the state’s legislative website late in the evening as Senate Bill 1118, sponsored by Ritter and Senate President Martin Looney (D).

Lawmakers are working against the clock to pass the reform by the end-of-session deadline on June 9, with other significant pieces of legislation—most notably the state budget—still in need of approval by then. Leaders said at a press briefing Saturday they’re hoping to address those matters early in the week and take up the cannabis bill on the Senate floor before Wednesday to avoid giving opponents the opportunity to run out the clock.

“I understand that Republicans are opposed to the bill,” Rojas said. “I’m hoping that they won’t approach it in the way they’ve approached some other bills that they’re really opposed to and feel the need to filibuster something.”

“You could look at maybe Tuesday,” added Ritter when asked about the bill’s timeline. “Obviously Wednesday gets pretty risky, as the majority leader noted, because we’re out at midnight, but there are options. So we’ll have to work through it, and we will work through it.”

The new bill incorporates elements of Lamont’s SB 888 as well as HB 6377, introduced by Rep. Robyn Porter (D). Its language was initially expected to be incorporated as a change to Lamont’s bill, which has already moved through two committees, but the compromise was instead introduced as standalone legislation with an emergency certification, allowing it to bypass typical committee votes so late in the legislative session.

Broadly speaking, the legislation would legalize personal possession and use of cannabis by adults 21 and older and eventually launch a regulated commercial cannabis market in Connecticut, licensing growers, retailers, manufacturers and delivery services. The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) would be in charge of licensing and regulating cannabis businesses. Rojas said he expects recreational sales would start in May 2022.

Half of all business licenses would need to be issued to social equity applicants, defined as people who have lived in geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and who make no more than three times the state’s median income. Those applicants could also qualify for technical assistance, workforce training and funding to cover startup costs. Much of the revenue from the new commercial market would be reinvested back into communities hit hardest by the drug war.

For those who don’t want to buy cannabis commercially, home cultivation would also be allowed under the bill—first for medical patients, then eventually for all adults 21 and older.

The legislative changes have focused on “strengthening our attempts to ensure that this new marketplace is really open to as broad a spectrum of individuals who want to enter that marketplace,” Rojas said on Friday, [rather] than “just having large corporate or over-capitalized interests dominating the market.”

Here are some of the key provisions of the new cannabis compromise legislation:

  • Legalization of cannabis possession and use would happen almost immediately. As of July 1 of this year, adults 21 and older could possess 1.5 ounces of cannabis or an equivalent amount of cannabis concentrates, and they could keep up to five ounces in their private residence or a vehicle’s trunk or locked glove box.
  • Homegrow would be allowed. Medical marijuana patients 18 and older could cultivate up to three mature plants and three immature plants beginning October 1, 2021, while adults 21 and older would have to wait until July 1, 2023. (Until then, first offenses for low-level home cultivation would be decriminalized.) No more than 12 plants per household would be allowed.
  • Adults 21 and older could gift legal possession amounts of marijuana to other adults.
  • Criminal convictions for possession of less than four ounces of cannabis would be automatically expunged beginning in 2023. Expungement would apply to possession convictions from January 1, 2000 through September 15, 2015.
  • Beginning July 1, 2022, individuals could petition to have other cannabis convictions erased, such as for possession of marijuana paraphernalia or the sale of small amounts of cannabis.
  • The smell of cannabis alone would no longer be a legal basis for law enforcement to stop and search individuals, nor would suspected possession of up to five ounces of marijuana.
  • Absent federal restrictions, employers would not be able to take adverse actions against workers merely for testing positive for cannabis metabolites.
  • Rental tenants, students at institutions of higher learning, and professionals in licensed occupations would be protected from certain types of discrimination around legal cannabis use. People who test positive for cannabis metabolites, which suggest past use, could not be denied organ transplants or other medical care, educational opportunities or have action taken against them by the Department of Children and Families without another evidence-based reason for the action.
  • Cannabis-related advertising could not target people under 21, and businesses that allow minors on their premises would be penalized. Licensees who sell to minors would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. People in charge of households or private properties who allow minors to possess cannabis there would also face a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Adults 18 to 20 years old who are caught with small amounts cannabis would be subject to a $50 civil fine, although subsequent violations could carry a $150 fine and mandatory community service. All possession offenses would require individuals to sign a statement acknowledging the health risks of cannabis to young people.
  • Minors under 18 could not be arrested for cannabis possession. A first offense would carry a written warning and possible referral to youth services, while a third or subsequent offense, or possession of more than five ounces of marijuana, would send the individual to juvenile court.
  • Local governments could prohibit cannabis businesses or ban cannabis delivery within their jurisdictions. Municipalities could also set reasonable limits on the number of licensed businesses, their locations, operating hours and signage.
  • Until June 30, 2024, the number of licensed cannabis retailers could not exceed one per 25,000 residents. After that, state regulators will set a new maximum.
  • Cannabis products would be capped at 30 percent THC by weight for cannabis flower and all other products except pre-filled vape cartridges at 60 percent THC, though those limits could be further adjusted by regulators. Retailers would also need to provide access to low-THC and high-CBD products. Products designed to appeal to children would be forbidden.
  • The state’s general sales tax of 6.35 percent would apply to cannabis, and an additional excise tax based on THC content would be imposed. The bill also authorizes a 3 percent municipal tax, which must be used for community reinvestment.
  • Until June 30, 2023, all excise tax would flow to the state’s general fund. For three years after that, 60 percent of the tax revenue will go to a new Social Equity and Innovation Fund. That amount would increase to 65 percent in 2026 and 75 percent in 2028. Other revenue would go to the state’s general fund as well as prevention and recovery services around drug use disorders.
  • Existing medical marijuana dispensaries could become “hybrid retailers” to also serve adult-use consumers. Regulators would begin accepting applications for hybrid permits in September 2021, and applicants would need to submit a conversion plan and pay a $1 million fee. That fee could be cut in half if they create a so-called equity joint venture, which would need to be majority owned by a social equity applicant. Medical marijuana growers could also begin cultivating adult-use cannabis in the second half this year, though they would need to pay a fee of up to $3 million.
  • Licensing fees for social equity applicants would be 50 percent of open licensing fees. Applicants would need to pay a small fee to enter a lottery, then a larger fee if they’re granted a license. Social equity licensees would also receive a 50 percent discount on license fees for the first three years of renewals.
  • The state would be allowed to enter into cannabis-related agreements with tribal governments, such as the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians.
A detailed summary of the measure was published by the advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) on Sunday afternoon.

Contrary to some earlier reports, the bill does not contain provisions that would require social equity applicants to pay a $3 million licensing fee and partner with larger, existing medical marijuana companies.

Legalization advocates broadly welcomed the new proposal.

“We’re excited by the recently revised legalization bill that was released yesterday,” DeVaughn Ward, a Connecticut attorney and senior legislative counsel for MPP, told Marijuana Moment on Sunday. “Although we believe some of the social equity licensing could be better tailored, this bill is a vast improvement over where we started in January and heads and tails better than the status quo.”

“With the addition of home grow for adults by 2023, the dedication of 50 percent of the licenses, and upwards of 60 percent of the excise tax revenue being put towards equity efforts,” Ward continued, “the bill looks poised to gain passage in both chambers.”

Jason Ortiz, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and a member of a legalization working group assembled by Lamont that issued recommendations on social equity late last year, said the changes are likely to help win some progressive votes although further reforms may be necessary.

“This bill is a huge step forward and has some truly nation-leading progressive policies. The only thing this bill is missing is the inclusion of our formerly incarcerated into the economic opportunities we’re giving millionaires,” he said. “If we can get agreement on including them in the equity qualifier, I think the progressives will be able to get on board. Without it it’s 50/50.”

The Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition, which advocates for regulations designed to build an equitable cannabis industry, described the bill as a good faith effort at incorporating inclusive policies but said the bill’s licensing provisions would still allow large businesses to begin operation before equity-owned companies.

“We urge Connecticut legislators to listen to people who have been directly harmed by the drug war arrests, incarceration, and collateral consequences and, crucially, to develop a sequence that puts them first,” the group told Marijuana Moment in an email. “Lessons from other states demonstrate that the timing of when a program becomes available for the people most harmed by the drug war is a critical factor in whether such a program achieves its goals. The funding, technical assistance, and other laudable elements in SB 1118 should be made available as early as possible and before the market commences.”

House leaders said they presented draft language of the bill to chamber colleagues and felt it was well received.

“We were able to make a couple of more adjustments that reflect, I think, the preferences of as many people in our caucus as possible to get us to the votes that we need to pass it,” Rojas said at Saturday’s briefing.

Prior to the compromise bill, progressive Democrats had signaled that they feel legislative leaders and the governor were moving too quickly and sidestepping important social equity considerations. Rep. Anne Hughes (D), cochair of the Progressive Caucus, told Marijuana Moment last week that “we want to do it right”—and that may mean tackling the reform in a special session, an option opposed by leadership and the governor.

On Saturday, Ritter downplayed the likelihood of calling for lawmakers to return to a special legislative session to tackle the, although he acknowledged it was a possibility. “We’d obviously keep that open if need be,” he said.

“We wouldn’t be the only state that needed to do it in a special session given the complexity of this policy issue,” added Rojas. “New Mexico went the same route. It worked hard during the regular session, felt the need to just pause to make sure they got it right and did a special session. But I think, you know, again, my mind is not there right now.”

Meanwhile, the governor said recently that he and legislative leaders are having “good, strong negotiations,” and there’s “broad agreement” on policies concerning public health and safety. There’s “growing agreement” with respect to using marijuana tax revenue to reinvest in communities disproportionately harmed by prohibition.

If a legalization measure isn’t enacted this year, Lamont said last month that the issue could ultimately go before voters.

“Marijuana is sort of interesting to me. When it goes to a vote of the people through some sort of a referendum, it passes overwhelmingly. When it goes through a legislature and a lot of telephone calls are made, it’s slim or doesn’t pass,” the governor said. “We’re trying to do it through the legislature. Folks are elected to make a decision, and we’ll see where it goes. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up in a referendum.”

Ritter said late last month that he feels there’s a 57-43 chance that the legislation is approved, whereas he previously gave it a 50-50 chance.

He last year that if the legislature isn’t able to pass a legalization bill, he will move to put a question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.

According to recent polling, if legalization did go before voters, it would pass.

Sixty-four percent of residents in the state favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, according to a survey from Sacred Heart University that was released last week.

The competing legalization measure from Rep. Robyn Porter (D), which is favored by many legalization advocates for its focus on social equity, was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee in March.

Lamont, who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, initially described his legalization plan as a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”

But while advocates have strongly criticized the governor’s plan as inadequate when it comes to equity provisions, Ritter said in March that “optimism abounds” as lawmakers work to merge proposals into a final legalization bill.

Rojas also said that “in principle, equity is important to both the administration and the legislature, and we’re going to work through those details.”

To that end, the majority leader said that working groups have been formed in the Democratic caucuses of the legislature to go through the governor’s proposal and the committee-approved reform bill.

In February, a Lamont administration official stressed during a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee that Lamont’s proposal it is “not a final bill,” and they want activists “at the table” to further inform the legislation.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. Those bills stalled, however.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address in January, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

The governor has compared the need for regional coordination on marijuana policy to the coronavirus response, stating 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.”

He also said that legalization in Connecticut could potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting out-of-state trips to purchase legal cannabis in neighboring states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
New Connecticut Marijuana Legalization Bill Released, With Votes Expected This Week

Connecticut legislative leaders introduced a sweeping new marijuana legalization bill late on Saturday, a day after announcing they’d reached a deal with the governor. A vote on the 297-page measure is expected within days, ahead of a mid-week legislative deadline.

The new proposal includes significant concessions to social equity advocates, who’ve criticized the legalization plan introduced by Gov. Ned Lamont (D) earlier this year as well as details of floated proposals that emerged during the negotiations. The changes are likely to curry favor among at least some progressive Democrats in the legislature, who previously signaled they might oppose the policy change.

House Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D) and Speaker Matt Ritter (D) have been negotiating with Lamont’s office for weeks on the compromise bill. They finally said on Friday morning that they had secured a “pencils down” agreement, and on Saturday promised the bill’s language would be public by the end of the day. It posted to the state’s legislative website late in the evening as Senate Bill 1118, sponsored by Ritter and Senate President Martin Looney (D).

Lawmakers are working against the clock to pass the reform by the end-of-session deadline on June 9, with other significant pieces of legislation—most notably the state budget—still in need of approval by then. Leaders said at a press briefing Saturday they’re hoping to address those matters early in the week and take up the cannabis bill on the Senate floor before Wednesday to avoid giving opponents the opportunity to run out the clock.

“I understand that Republicans are opposed to the bill,” Rojas said. “I’m hoping that they won’t approach it in the way they’ve approached some other bills that they’re really opposed to and feel the need to filibuster something.”

“You could look at maybe Tuesday,” added Ritter when asked about the bill’s timeline. “Obviously Wednesday gets pretty risky, as the majority leader noted, because we’re out at midnight, but there are options. So we’ll have to work through it, and we will work through it.”

The new bill incorporates elements of Lamont’s SB 888 as well as HB 6377, introduced by Rep. Robyn Porter (D). Its language was initially expected to be incorporated as a change to Lamont’s bill, which has already moved through two committees, but the compromise was instead introduced as standalone legislation with an emergency certification, allowing it to bypass typical committee votes so late in the legislative session.

Broadly speaking, the legislation would legalize personal possession and use of cannabis by adults 21 and older and eventually launch a regulated commercial cannabis market in Connecticut, licensing growers, retailers, manufacturers and delivery services. The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) would be in charge of licensing and regulating cannabis businesses. Rojas said he expects recreational sales would start in May 2022.

Half of all business licenses would need to be issued to social equity applicants, defined as people who have lived in geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and who make no more than three times the state’s median income. Those applicants could also qualify for technical assistance, workforce training and funding to cover startup costs. Much of the revenue from the new commercial market would be reinvested back into communities hit hardest by the drug war.

For those who don’t want to buy cannabis commercially, home cultivation would also be allowed under the bill—first for medical patients, then eventually for all adults 21 and older.

The legislative changes have focused on “strengthening our attempts to ensure that this new marketplace is really open to as broad a spectrum of individuals who want to enter that marketplace,” Rojas said on Friday, [rather] than “just having large corporate or over-capitalized interests dominating the market.”

Here are some of the key provisions of the new cannabis compromise legislation:

  • Legalization of cannabis possession and use would happen almost immediately. As of July 1 of this year, adults 21 and older could possess 1.5 ounces of cannabis or an equivalent amount of cannabis concentrates, and they could keep up to five ounces in their private residence or a vehicle’s trunk or locked glove box.
  • Homegrow would be allowed. Medical marijuana patients 18 and older could cultivate up to three mature plants and three immature plants beginning October 1, 2021, while adults 21 and older would have to wait until July 1, 2023. (Until then, first offenses for low-level home cultivation would be decriminalized.) No more than 12 plants per household would be allowed.
  • Adults 21 and older could gift legal possession amounts of marijuana to other adults.
  • Criminal convictions for possession of less than four ounces of cannabis would be automatically expunged beginning in 2023. Expungement would apply to possession convictions from January 1, 2000 through September 15, 2015.
  • Beginning July 1, 2022, individuals could petition to have other cannabis convictions erased, such as for possession of marijuana paraphernalia or the sale of small amounts of cannabis.
  • The smell of cannabis alone would no longer be a legal basis for law enforcement to stop and search individuals, nor would suspected possession of up to five ounces of marijuana.
  • Absent federal restrictions, employers would not be able to take adverse actions against workers merely for testing positive for cannabis metabolites.
  • Rental tenants, students at institutions of higher learning, and professionals in licensed occupations would be protected from certain types of discrimination around legal cannabis use. People who test positive for cannabis metabolites, which suggest past use, could not be denied organ transplants or other medical care, educational opportunities or have action taken against them by the Department of Children and Families without another evidence-based reason for the action.
  • Cannabis-related advertising could not target people under 21, and businesses that allow minors on their premises would be penalized. Licensees who sell to minors would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. People in charge of households or private properties who allow minors to possess cannabis there would also face a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Adults 18 to 20 years old who are caught with small amounts cannabis would be subject to a $50 civil fine, although subsequent violations could carry a $150 fine and mandatory community service. All possession offenses would require individuals to sign a statement acknowledging the health risks of cannabis to young people.
  • Minors under 18 could not be arrested for cannabis possession. A first offense would carry a written warning and possible referral to youth services, while a third or subsequent offense, or possession of more than five ounces of marijuana, would send the individual to juvenile court.
  • Local governments could prohibit cannabis businesses or ban cannabis delivery within their jurisdictions. Municipalities could also set reasonable limits on the number of licensed businesses, their locations, operating hours and signage.
  • Until June 30, 2024, the number of licensed cannabis retailers could not exceed one per 25,000 residents. After that, state regulators will set a new maximum.
  • Cannabis products would be capped at 30 percent THC by weight for cannabis flower and all other products except pre-filled vape cartridges at 60 percent THC, though those limits could be further adjusted by regulators. Retailers would also need to provide access to low-THC and high-CBD products. Products designed to appeal to children would be forbidden.
  • The state’s general sales tax of 6.35 percent would apply to cannabis, and an additional excise tax based on THC content would be imposed. The bill also authorizes a 3 percent municipal tax, which must be used for community reinvestment.
  • Until June 30, 2023, all excise tax would flow to the state’s general fund. For three years after that, 60 percent of the tax revenue will go to a new Social Equity and Innovation Fund. That amount would increase to 65 percent in 2026 and 75 percent in 2028. Other revenue would go to the state’s general fund as well as prevention and recovery services around drug use disorders.
  • Existing medical marijuana dispensaries could become “hybrid retailers” to also serve adult-use consumers. Regulators would begin accepting applications for hybrid permits in September 2021, and applicants would need to submit a conversion plan and pay a $1 million fee. That fee could be cut in half if they create a so-called equity joint venture, which would need to be majority owned by a social equity applicant. Medical marijuana growers could also begin cultivating adult-use cannabis in the second half this year, though they would need to pay a fee of up to $3 million.
  • Licensing fees for social equity applicants would be 50 percent of open licensing fees. Applicants would need to pay a small fee to enter a lottery, then a larger fee if they’re granted a license. Social equity licensees would also receive a 50 percent discount on license fees for the first three years of renewals.
  • The state would be allowed to enter into cannabis-related agreements with tribal governments, such as the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians.
A detailed summary of the measure was published by the advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) on Sunday afternoon.

Contrary to some earlier reports, the bill does not contain provisions that would require social equity applicants to pay a $3 million licensing fee and partner with larger, existing medical marijuana companies.

Legalization advocates broadly welcomed the new proposal.

“We’re excited by the recently revised legalization bill that was released yesterday,” DeVaughn Ward, a Connecticut attorney and senior legislative counsel for MPP, told Marijuana Moment on Sunday. “Although we believe some of the social equity licensing could be better tailored, this bill is a vast improvement over where we started in January and heads and tails better than the status quo.”

“With the addition of home grow for adults by 2023, the dedication of 50 percent of the licenses, and upwards of 60 percent of the excise tax revenue being put towards equity efforts,” Ward continued, “the bill looks poised to gain passage in both chambers.”

Jason Ortiz, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and a member of a legalization working group assembled by Lamont that issued recommendations on social equity late last year, said the changes are likely to help win some progressive votes although further reforms may be necessary.

“This bill is a huge step forward and has some truly nation-leading progressive policies. The only thing this bill is missing is the inclusion of our formerly incarcerated into the economic opportunities we’re giving millionaires,” he said. “If we can get agreement on including them in the equity qualifier, I think the progressives will be able to get on board. Without it it’s 50/50.”

The Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition, which advocates for regulations designed to build an equitable cannabis industry, described the bill as a good faith effort at incorporating inclusive policies but said the bill’s licensing provisions would still allow large businesses to begin operation before equity-owned companies.

“We urge Connecticut legislators to listen to people who have been directly harmed by the drug war arrests, incarceration, and collateral consequences and, crucially, to develop a sequence that puts them first,” the group told Marijuana Moment in an email. “Lessons from other states demonstrate that the timing of when a program becomes available for the people most harmed by the drug war is a critical factor in whether such a program achieves its goals. The funding, technical assistance, and other laudable elements in SB 1118 should be made available as early as possible and before the market commences.”

House leaders said they presented draft language of the bill to chamber colleagues and felt it was well received.

“We were able to make a couple of more adjustments that reflect, I think, the preferences of as many people in our caucus as possible to get us to the votes that we need to pass it,” Rojas said at Saturday’s briefing.

Prior to the compromise bill, progressive Democrats had signaled that they feel legislative leaders and the governor were moving too quickly and sidestepping important social equity considerations. Rep. Anne Hughes (D), cochair of the Progressive Caucus, told Marijuana Moment last week that “we want to do it right”—and that may mean tackling the reform in a special session, an option opposed by leadership and the governor.

On Saturday, Ritter downplayed the likelihood of calling for lawmakers to return to a special legislative session to tackle the, although he acknowledged it was a possibility. “We’d obviously keep that open if need be,” he said.

“We wouldn’t be the only state that needed to do it in a special session given the complexity of this policy issue,” added Rojas. “New Mexico went the same route. It worked hard during the regular session, felt the need to just pause to make sure they got it right and did a special session. But I think, you know, again, my mind is not there right now.”

Meanwhile, the governor said recently that he and legislative leaders are having “good, strong negotiations,” and there’s “broad agreement” on policies concerning public health and safety. There’s “growing agreement” with respect to using marijuana tax revenue to reinvest in communities disproportionately harmed by prohibition.

If a legalization measure isn’t enacted this year, Lamont said last month that the issue could ultimately go before voters.

“Marijuana is sort of interesting to me. When it goes to a vote of the people through some sort of a referendum, it passes overwhelmingly. When it goes through a legislature and a lot of telephone calls are made, it’s slim or doesn’t pass,” the governor said. “We’re trying to do it through the legislature. Folks are elected to make a decision, and we’ll see where it goes. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up in a referendum.”

Ritter said late last month that he feels there’s a 57-43 chance that the legislation is approved, whereas he previously gave it a 50-50 chance.

He last year that if the legislature isn’t able to pass a legalization bill, he will move to put a question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.

According to recent polling, if legalization did go before voters, it would pass.

Sixty-four percent of residents in the state favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, according to a survey from Sacred Heart University that was released last week.

The competing legalization measure from Rep. Robyn Porter (D), which is favored by many legalization advocates for its focus on social equity, was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee in March.

Lamont, who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, initially described his legalization plan as a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”

But while advocates have strongly criticized the governor’s plan as inadequate when it comes to equity provisions, Ritter said in March that “optimism abounds” as lawmakers work to merge proposals into a final legalization bill.

Rojas also said that “in principle, equity is important to both the administration and the legislature, and we’re going to work through those details.”

To that end, the majority leader said that working groups have been formed in the Democratic caucuses of the legislature to go through the governor’s proposal and the committee-approved reform bill.

In February, a Lamont administration official stressed during a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee that Lamont’s proposal it is “not a final bill,” and they want activists “at the table” to further inform the legislation.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. Those bills stalled, however.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address in January, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

The governor has compared the need for regional coordination on marijuana policy to the coronavirus response, stating 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.”

He also said that legalization in Connecticut could potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting out-of-state trips to purchase legal cannabis in neighboring states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Well, since they are a small state surrounded by other small states (relative to driving from one to another) its either legalize it or your citizens will just drive an hour.

Now, THC limits....these fucking politicians clowns know zero about almost everything but they do feel entitled to levy limits. I hate politicians.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Connecticut Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill, Days Before Session Ends


The Connecticut Senate early Tuesday morning passed a bill to legalize marijuana, sending the proposal to the House for final approval with just days left in the legislative session.

House leaders say they plan to take up the legislation in that chamber before Wednesday’s end-of-session deadline but after first tackling the state budget.

The cannabis bill is the product of weeks of negotiations between legislative leaders and Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) office. Finalized language was introduced only on Saturday, giving lawmakers little time to review the roughly 300-page proposal.

But during a marathon floor debate that stretched into the early hours Tuesday morning, the Senate passed the bill in a 19–17 vote.

“We have seen what has been wrought by having a war on drugs,” Sen. Gary Winfield (D) said on the floor before the vote. “Whole communities have been decimated. And some people will say, ‘Well, there are not a lot of people in our state in jail for cannabis today,’ but there are vestigial ways in which communities are still impacted by what we were doing.”

Noting that cannabis was once available in American apothecaries, Winfield ran through the history of the drug war and argued that marijuana prohibition’s racist origins and consequences continue to be felt today.

“The reason I think we should legalize cannabis is not because of the money—that’s an important part of this,” he added, “but because we should have never made cannabis an illegal drug. It should never have been prohibited. It should never have been a Schedule I drug, particularly given how it got there.”


Asked whether there will be enough support in the House to pass the measure, Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D) said earlier Monday that he believes the votes will be there—but he’s “still answering lots of questions” from members about specific provisions.

“I’m confident that we’ll get there,” he said.

House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) added that “we do expect it to pass.”

“We don’t think we’ll have 97 votes,” he said, referring to the total number of Democratic members in the body. “We understand there will be noes in our caucus … But we’ve heard from a few people on the other side of the aisle too that have had a chance to digest and stuff, and I would say there’s a few people involved in conversations there too.”

He also left open the possibility that opponents may attempt to run out the clock and push the debate on the legalization measure all the way to the session’s mandated end at midnight on Wednesday. But if that happens, he said, he could call lawmakers back into a special session as early as the following day to tackle the issue.

On the Senate floor, Republicans pushed back strongly against the proposal, arguing that broadly legalizing marijuana would risk condoning cannabis use, especially among youth.

“I do believe this is the wrong direction for the state of Connecticut. I think there’s so many unanswered questions,” said Sen. John Kissel (R), who said he took credit for being a chief proponent and framer of the state’s existing medical marijuana law.

“When you call it recreational marijuana, it sounds like, you know, a playground, like an amusement park, like playing cards with your friends,” he continued. “Well, it might be a little more dangerous than that, you know?”

Sen. Dan Champagne (R), a former law enforcement officer, argued the bill would create headaches for police. He pressed Winfield on the difficulties of identifying acute cannabis intoxication in drivers and warned of high costs involved with training drug recognition experts who can identify people under the influence of marijuana. He also worried that certain provisions, such as allowing individuals to possess up to five ounces of cannabis in their car glove box, could fuel the illicit market.

“I figured we’d have a lot more security, a lot more, ‘This is what we’re going to do to protect people,’” he said. “Instead I see giveaways to the unions. I see a slush fund being created. I just see a lot of problems in here. I fear for our youth.”

Prior to negotiations, the governor backed a separate legalization proposal that received significant criticism from advocates for a lack of social equity provisions aimed at correcting the wrongs of the drug war. That legislation moved through two committees, but it will not be the vehicle for the reform moving forward.

Here are some key details about the new, Senate-approved legislation:

  • It would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis starting on July 1, and it would establish a retail market, with Rojas anticipating sales to launch in May 2022.
  • Regulators with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) would be responsible for issuing licenses for growers, retailers, manufacturers and delivery services.
  • Social equity applicants—defined as people who have lived in geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and who make no more than three times the state’s median income—would be entitled to half of those licenses.
  • A significant amount of tax revenue from cannabis sales would go toward community reinvestment.
  • Home cultivation would be permitted—first to medical marijuana patients and then later to adult-use consumers.
  • Criminal convictions for possession of less than four ounces of cannabis would be automatically expunged beginning in 2023. Expungement would apply to possession convictions from January 1, 2000 through September 15, 2015.
  • Beginning July 1, 2022, individuals could petition to have other cannabis convictions erased, such as for possession of marijuana paraphernalia or the sale of small amounts of cannabis.
  • The smell of cannabis alone would no longer be a legal basis for law enforcement to stop and search individuals, nor would suspected possession of up to five ounces of marijuana.
  • Absent federal restrictions, employers would not be able to take adverse actions against workers merely for testing positive for cannabis metabolites.
  • Rental tenants, students at institutions of higher learning, and professionals in licensed occupations would be protected from certain types of discrimination around legal cannabis use. People who test positive for cannabis metabolites, which suggest past use, could not be denied organ transplants or other medical care, educational opportunities or have action taken against them by the Department of Children and Families without another evidence-based reason for the action.
  • Cannabis-related advertising could not target people under 21, and businesses that allow minors on their premises would be penalized. Licensees who sell to minors would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. People in charge of households or private properties who allow minors to possess cannabis there would also face a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Adults 18 to 20 years old who are caught with small amounts cannabis would be subject to a $50 civil fine, although subsequent violations could carry a $150 fine and mandatory community service. All possession offenses would require individuals to sign a statement acknowledging the health risks of cannabis to young people.
  • Minors under 18 could not be arrested for cannabis possession. A first offense would carry a written warning and possible referral to youth services, while a third or subsequent offense, or possession of more than five ounces of marijuana, would send the individual to juvenile court.
    Local governments could prohibit cannabis businesses or ban cannabis delivery within their jurisdictions. Municipalities could also set reasonable limits on the number of licensed businesses, their locations, operating hours and signage.
  • Until June 30, 2024, the number of licensed cannabis retailers could not exceed one per 25,000 residents. After that, state regulators will set a new maximum.
  • Cannabis products would be capped at 30 percent THC by weight for cannabis flower and all other products except pre-filled vape cartridges at 60 percent THC, though those limits could be further adjusted by regulators. Retailers would also need to provide access to low-THC and high-CBD products. Products designed to appeal to children would be forbidden.
  • The state’s general sales tax of 6.35 percent would apply to cannabis, and an additional excise tax based on THC content would be imposed. The bill also authorizes a 3 percent municipal tax, which must be used for community reinvestment.
  • Until June 30, 2023, all excise tax would flow to the state’s general fund. For three years after that, 60 percent of the tax revenue will go to a new Social Equity and Innovation Fund. That amount would increase to 65 percent in 2026 and 75 percent in 2028. Other revenue would go to the state’s general fund as well as prevention and recovery services around drug use disorders.
  • Existing medical marijuana dispensaries could become “hybrid retailers” to also serve adult-use consumers. Regulators would begin accepting applications for hybrid permits in September 2021, and applicants would need to submit a conversion plan and pay a $1 million fee. That fee could be cut in half if they create a so-called equity joint venture, which would need to be majority owned by a social equity applicant. Medical marijuana growers could also begin cultivating adult-use cannabis in the second half this year, though they would need to pay a fee of up to $3 million.
  • Licensing fees for social equity applicants would be 50 percent of open licensing fees. Applicants would need to pay a small fee to enter a lottery, then a larger fee if they’re granted a license. Social equity licensees would also receive a 50 percent discount on license fees for the first three years of renewals.
  • The state would be allowed to enter into cannabis-related agreements with tribal governments, such as the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians.
Lawmakers considered a number of amendments on the floor prior to the final vote. Most were offered by Republicans and rejected along party lines.

One amendment from Winfield, which was adopted on a voice vote, made a number of substantial and technical changes. Among other revisions, it deletes a section that would have allowed backers of marijuana producers to obtain cultivation licenses without being subject to a lottery and clarifies that a higher percentage of equity joint-venture owners be from disproportionately impacted areas. It also expands equity provisions of the bill so that 100 percent of profits with joint ventures with existing businesses go to equity partners, rather than the 5 percent in the original bill, and exempts medical marijuana from potency limits that apply to adult-use products.

Among the amendments that failed were an effort to require marijuana to be packaged with information from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention about “the potential harmful health effects of cannabis use” and a separate push to remove labor union requirements that would apply to marijuana businesses.

The Senate also rejected an amendment from Sen. Heather Somers (R) that, among other changes, would have delayed legalization until 2024 and established a study to analyze cannabis’s effects on adolescent brains, addiction, mental illness and impaired driving.

“We’re legitimizing a highly potent, mind-altering drug to collect our little piece of gold that we may get from it,” Somers said. “This bill may generate $80 million in revenue, but the costs will well outstrip any kind of revenue we’ll see come in.”

A fiscal note of the unamended bill projects that taxes and fees for marijuana would bring in an estimated $4.1 million in additional revenue for the state and municipalities in fiscal year 2022, which would grow over time to a projected annual haul of $73.4 million by fiscal year 2026.

Legalization advocates cheered the bill’s Senate passage.

“Today is an historic day, where equity advocates, labor unions and small business owners were able to ensure their communities would be a foundation of the new cannabis industry as we end the practice of arresting our youth and communities of color for cannabis,” Jason Ortiz, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, told Marijuana Moment.

“The job is not done yet but this is a huge step forward toward a more sensible drug policy in Connecticut,” added Ortiz, who served a member of a legalization working group assembled by Lamont that issued recommendations on social equity late last year.


DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative council for Marijuana Policy project, called the bill’s passage “a huge step forward in ending the failed policies of cannabis prohibition.”

“The bill not only removes policies that have been weaponized against communities of color, but also generates thousands of jobs, and directs millions of dollars in revenue to Connecticut communities,” he told Marijuana Moment. “Legislative leaders, Gov. Lamont, advocates and the Connecticut cannabis community should be applauded for their role in shaping this historic measure. We strongly urge the Connecticut House to pass the bill before the June 9th session deadline.”

Prior to the compromise bill, progressive Democrats had signaled that they feel legislative leaders and the governor were moving too quickly and sidestepping important social equity considerations. Rep. Anne Hughes (D), cochair of the Progressive Caucus, told Marijuana Moment last week that “we want to do it right”—and that may mean tackling the reform in a special session, an option opposed by leadership and the governor.

Meanwhile, the governor said recently that he and legislative leaders are having “good, strong negotiations,” and there’s “broad agreement” on policies concerning public health and safety. There’s “growing agreement” with respect to using marijuana tax revenue to reinvest in communities disproportionately harmed by prohibition.

If a legalization measure isn’t enacted this year, Lamont said last month that the issue could ultimately go before voters.

“Marijuana is sort of interesting to me. When it goes to a vote of the people through some sort of a referendum, it passes overwhelmingly. When it goes through a legislature and a lot of telephone calls are made, it’s slim or doesn’t pass,” the governor said. “We’re trying to do it through the legislature. Folks are elected to make a decision, and we’ll see where it goes. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up in a referendum.”

Ritter said late last month that he feels there’s a 57-43 chance that the legislation is approved, whereas he previously gave it a 50-50 chance.

He last year that if the legislature isn’t able to pass a legalization bill, he will move to put a question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.

According to recent polling, if legalization did go before voters, it would pass.

Sixty-four percent of residents in the state favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, according to a survey from Sacred Heart University that was released last week.

The competing legalization measure from Rep. Robyn Porter (D), which is favored by many legalization advocates for its focus on social equity, was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee in March.

Lamont, who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, initially described his legalization plan as a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”

But while advocates have strongly criticized the governor’s plan as inadequate when it comes to equity provisions, Ritter said in March that “optimism abounds” as lawmakers work to merge proposals into a final legalization bill.

Rojas also said that “in principle, equity is important to both the administration and the legislature, and we’re going to work through those details.”

To that end, the majority leader said that working groups have been formed in the Democratic caucuses of the legislature to go through the governor’s proposal and the committee-approved reform bill.

In February, a Lamont administration official stressed during a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee that Lamont’s proposal it is “not a final bill,” and they want activists “at the table” to further inform the legislation.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. Those bills stalled, however.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address in January, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

The governor has compared the need for regional coordination on marijuana policy to the coronavirus response, stating 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.”

He also said that legalization in Connecticut could potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting out-of-state trips to purchase legal cannabis in neighboring states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Connecticut Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill In Special Session, But Governor Threatens Veto


Connecticut’s Senate approved a marijuana legalization bill during a special legislative session on Tuesday in a 19–12 vote.

The measure now proceeds to the House, which is expected to take it up on Wednesday. Meanwhile, however, Gov. Ned Lamont (D), who has been broadly supportive of legalization, threatened to veto the proposal over social equity eligibility rules.

Senate lawmakers passed largely similar legislation just a week ago on an even slimmer, 19–12 vote—but hours before the regular session came to a close, House leaders announced they would delay action in that chamber until this week’s special session. They’ve repeatedly said they have the votes to usher in the policy change despite pushback from Republicans and remaining skepticism from some Democrats.

Sen. Gary Winfield (D), who spoke on behalf of the bill during Tuesday’s floor debate, stressed that the bill would not only create and regulate a new industry but also address past criminal drug policies that have disproportionately harmed people of color.

“The conversation about cannabis legalization also is a conversation about policing in certain communities, the way policing has happened,” Winfield said, pointing to “disproportionate contact between communities of color and police, and the outgrowth of that.”

Senate President Martin Looney (D) said cannabis policy needs to be looked at with a “historical view.”

“What has been done to our children in arresting them incarcerating them and branding them with criminal records for decades over possession of small amounts of marijuana and blighting their whole lives?” he asked. “That’s the harm that’s been done to our children by our current regimen of laws.”

At one point during the debate, Lamont’s office issued a statement threatening to veto the legislation over a provision that would let anyone with a past cannabis arrest or conviction receive priority status for a marijuana license regardless of their wealth. An amendment, however, was adopted in an attempt to address that concern by setting an income limit for those applicants.

It was not immediately clear whether the new provision setting an income limit would address the governor’s concerns, however. If House lawmakers approve additional changes, the measure would need to return to the Senate for a concurrence vote before heading to Lamont’s desk.


With Democrats confident that they had enough votes to pass the bill, most of the debate consisted of pushback from Republicans, who oppose the policy change on the grounds it would normalize cannabis use, particularly among young people, and cause public safety problems.

Sen. Dan Champagne (R) repeatedly referred to the bill as “a drug dealer’s dream.”

Others, however, said they felt the latest bill is at least an improvement over past versions.

“I think a lot of the provisions in the amendment move the bill in a positive direction from my perspective,” said Sen. John Kissel (R), “even though I don’t support the legalization of what’s called colloquially recreational use of marijuana.”

The latest version of the legalization plan, SB 1201, was introduced Monday by Looney and House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) and includes some changes from the version passed by the Senate last week.

Perhaps the most significant change to the proposal, however, came in a 288-page amendment introduced shortly before Tuesday’s floor debate by Sen. Gary Winfield (D). Among other revisions, the amendment added language that would expand eligibility for the state’s social equity licensing program to include people with past cannabis arrests or convictions.

Other notable changes from the bill passed last week include a ban on participation in the marijuana industry for certain state employees and officials. The rule would prevent former cannabis regulators, members or employees of the new social equity council, lawmakers and other statewide elected officials from applying for marijuana business licenses for a period of two years after they leave state service.

The new bill also removes a provision that would have let regulators decide whether to continue allowing home cultivation of marijuana for personal use, which is otherwise permitted under the proposal.

Among other revisions, the latest legislation clarifies that product labels must include THC and CBD amounts by package and serving size, directs most fees and taxes to a new state cannabis regulatory and investment account, modifies public records rules, adjusts community service requirements for certain violations and requires that the state Department of Public Health issue annual reports on marijuana-related public health information beginning in 2023.

The bulk of the nearly 300-page bill, however, resembles the version passed last week by the Senate. It would legalize personal possession and use of cannabis by adults 21 and older and eventually launch a regulated commercial cannabis market.

The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) would be in charge of licensing and regulating cannabis businesses, with legal sales expected to begin in mid-2022.

Half of all business licenses would need to be issued to social equity applicants, defined as people with who have lived in geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs as well as those with past cannabis arrests or convictions. A second amendment from Winfield, approved prior to the full floor vote, expanded an income limit for social equity applicants to clarify that no individual who makes more than three times the state’s median income would be eligible for the status.

Equity applicants could also qualify for technical assistance, workforce training and funding to cover startup costs. Much of the revenue from the new commercial market would be reinvested back into communities hit hardest by the drug war.

For residents who don’t want to buy cannabis commercially, home cultivation would also be allowed under the bill—first for medical patients, then eventually for all adults 21 and older.

Here are some key details about the Senate-approved legislation:

  • It would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis starting on July 1, and it would establish a retail market. Legislative leaders anticipate sales to launch in May 2022, though the bill includes no official start date.
  • Regulators with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) would be responsible for issuing licenses for growers, retailers, manufacturers and delivery services. Social equity applicants would be entitled to half of those licenses.
  • A significant amount of tax revenue from cannabis sales would go toward community reinvestment.
  • Home cultivation would be permitted—first to medical marijuana patients and then later to adult-use consumers.
  • Criminal convictions for possession of less than four ounces of cannabis would be automatically expunged beginning in 2023. Expungement would apply to possession convictions from January 1, 2000 through September 15, 2015.
  • Beginning July 1, 2022, individuals could petition to have other cannabis convictions erased, such as for possession of marijuana paraphernalia or the sale of small amounts of cannabis.
  • The smell of cannabis alone would no longer be a legal basis for law enforcement to stop and search individuals, nor would suspected possession of up to five ounces of marijuana.
  • Absent federal restrictions, employers would not be able to take adverse actions against workers merely for testing positive for cannabis metabolites.
  • Rental tenants, students at institutions of higher learning, and professionals in licensed occupations would be protected from certain types of discrimination around legal cannabis use. People who test positive for cannabis metabolites, which suggest past use, could not be denied organ transplants or other medical care, educational opportunities or have action taken against them by the Department of Children and Families without another evidence-based reason for the action.
  • Cannabis-related advertising could not target people under 21, and businesses that allow minors on their premises would be penalized. Licensees who sell to minors would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. People in charge of households or private properties who allow minors to possess cannabis there would also face a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Adults 18 to 20 years old who are caught with small amounts cannabis would be subject to a $50 civil fine, although subsequent violations could carry a $150 fine and/or mandatory community service. All possession offenses would require individuals to sign a statement acknowledging the health risks of cannabis to young people.
  • Minors under 18 could not be arrested for cannabis possession. A first offense would carry a written warning and possible referral to youth services, while a third or subsequent offense, or possession of more than five ounces of marijuana, would send the individual to juvenile court.
  • Local governments could prohibit cannabis businesses or ban cannabis delivery within their jurisdictions. Municipalities could also set reasonable limits on the number of licensed businesses, their locations, operating hours and signage.
  • Until June 30, 2024, the number of licensed cannabis retailers could not exceed one per 25,000 residents. After that, state regulators will set a new maximum.
  • Cannabis products would be capped at 30 percent THC by weight for cannabis flower and all other products except pre-filled vape cartridges at 60 percent THC, though those limits could be further adjusted by regulators. Medical marijuana products would be exempt from the potency caps. Retailers would also need to provide access to low-THC and high-CBD products.
  • Products designed to appeal to children would be forbidden.
  • The state’s general sales tax of 6.35 percent would apply to cannabis, and an additional excise tax based on THC content would be imposed. The bill also authorizes a 3 percent municipal tax, which must be used for community reinvestment.
  • Existing medical marijuana dispensaries could become “hybrid retailers” to also serve adult-use consumers. Regulators would begin accepting applications for hybrid permits in September 2021, and applicants would need to submit a conversion plan and pay a $1 million fee. That fee could be cut in half if they create a so-called equity joint venture, which would need to be majority owned by a social equity applicant. Medical marijuana growers could also begin cultivating adult-use cannabis in the second half this year, though they would need to pay a fee of up to $3 million.
  • Licensing fees for social equity applicants would be 50 percent of open licensing fees. Applicants would need to pay a small fee to enter a lottery, then a larger fee if they’re granted a license. Social equity licensees would also receive a 50 percent discount on license fees for the first three years of renewals.
  • The state would be allowed to enter into cannabis-related agreements with tribal governments, such as the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians.
The latest bill also includes changes adopted as an amendment in the Senate last week. Among other revisions, it deleted a section that would have allowed backers of marijuana producers to obtain cultivation licenses without being subject to a lottery and clarifies that a higher percentage of equity joint-venture owners be from disproportionately impacted areas. It also expanded equity provisions of the bill so that 100 percent of profits with joint ventures with existing businesses go to equity partners, rather than the 5 percent in the original bill, and exempted medical marijuana from potency limits that apply to adult-use products.

A fiscal note for the legislation projects that taxes and fees for marijuana would bring in an estimated $4.1 million in additional revenue for the state and municipalities in fiscal year 2022, which would grow over time to a projected annual haul of $73.4 million by fiscal year 2026.

Lamont, who introduced his own legalization bill earlier this year, urged the legislature to adopt the policy change during a press briefing late last week.

“I have a strong point of view to do whatever it takes to get this over the finish line,” he said. “Around the country, we have red states and blue states that are passing this and doing it in a very careful, regulated way—and I think we’re ready to do the same.”

Some advocates initially criticized an early version of the new bill for failing to include a provision aimed at redressing individual harm caused by the criminal drug war, which disproportionately affected Black and brown people.

A provision that was in the governor’s original bill, SB 888, as well as separate legalization legislation by Rep. Robyn Porter (D), would have granted social equity status to cannabis business license applicants if they or a parent, spouse or child had been arrested or convicted of a past cannabis crime. That criterion was left out of the legislation the Senate passed last week and the new bill when it was introduced on Monday, but Winfield’s striking amendment added it in. Other qualifications for social equity status include residency in low-income or high-unemployment areas or those that have seen disproportionate policing under prohibition.

Jason Ortiz, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, posted to Facebook on Monday that the initial omission of the clause meant “that the people most impacted by over policing will be will be intentionally taken out of the cannabis equity program.”

“The laws that made my and my community into ‘criminals’ were put there for racist and political reasons,” he wrote. “People have profited from our suffering and our imprisonment. And now they won’t even admit that the people who were locked up deserve a shot at a license.”

“Imagine having multiple years to study one basic concept and on gameday not understanding the foundational concept of social equity,” added Ortiz, who served as a member of the governor’s legalization working group that issued recommendations on social equity late last year.

Ortiz included an image of what appears to be a friends-only Facebook post by Porter, whose own legalization proposal prioritized social equity and reinvestment into communities hit hardest by the drug war. That bill, which was favored by many advocates for its focus on equity, passed the House Labor and Public Employees Committee in March but did not proceed further.

“So, the cannabis bill running tomorrow in the Senate doesn’t have the following language, which is the most CRITICAL component of the ‘social equity applicant definition,'” the post says, referencing the provision about past cannabis records making applicants eligible for social equity status. “We’ve gone from being INTENTIONALLY TARGETED to INTENTIONALLY EXCLUDED. Now, where is the EQUITY in that?”

Those concerns were apparently heard by legislative leaders, however, and the conviction qualifying criteria was added in Winfield’s large-scale amendment that the Senate adopted.

“The notion that those people might not be included in the [social equity] definition—while I don’t believe that’s what the definition did—was problematic for many people that I’ve had conversation with,” Winfield said during floor debate.

Legalization advocates at Marijuana Policy Project cheered the amended bill’s passage.

“I’m grateful that today the Senate reaffirmed their commitment to ending the failed policies of cannabis prohibition,” DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel for the group, told Marijuana Moment in an email. “Legislative leaders, the governor and advocates should be applauded for their efforts as this bill contains some of the strongest equity provisions in the country. I’m hopeful the House will follow the Senate’s lead tomorrow and end the devastating war on marijuana in Connecticut.”

The bill passed by senators on Tuesday is the result of a compromise between legislative Democrats and the governor’s office, and proponents have said it includes elements of both Porter’s HB 6377 and Lamont’s SB 888, which moved through two committees during the regular session.

If a legalization measure isn’t enacted this year, Lamont said last month that the issue could ultimately go before voters.

“Marijuana is sort of interesting to me. When it goes to a vote of the people through some sort of a referendum, it passes overwhelmingly. When it goes through a legislature and a lot of telephone calls are made, it’s slim or doesn’t pass,” the governor said. “We’re trying to do it through the legislature. Folks are elected to make a decision, and we’ll see where it goes. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up in a referendum.”

Ritter said late last month that he feels there’s a 57-43 chance that the legislation is approved, whereas he previously gave it a 50-50 chance.

He last year that if the legislature isn’t able to pass a legalization bill, he will move to put a question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.

According to recent polling, if legalization did go before voters, it would pass. Sixty-four percent of residents in the state favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, according to a survey from Sacred Heart University released last month.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. Those bills stalled, however.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address in January, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

The governor has compared the need for regional coordination on marijuana policy to the coronavirus response, stating 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.”

Meanwhile in neighboring Rhode Island, a legislative committee on Monday approved a marijuana legalization bill that’s being championed by Senate leadership in that state.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
"Lamont said he would sign so the state could move beyond “this terrible period of incarceration and injustice.”

hahaha...not to even speak of this terrible period of losing tax dollars to neighboring legal states, yeah. Fucking politicians.

Connecticut To Become 18th State To Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis


Connecticut is slated to become the latest state in the U.S. to legalize, tax and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and older.​


On Thursday, lawmakers passed an adult-use cannabis bill and Governor Ned Lamont said he would sign so the state could move beyond “this terrible period of incarceration and injustice.”

“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,” Governor Lamont said in a statement. “It will help eliminate the dangerous unregulated market and support a new, growing sector of our economy which will create jobs.”


The new law legalizes possession and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and older. It will also expunge low-level criminal records related to marijuana. Most of the tax revenue generated from adult-use sales will go communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition and half of the state’s adult-use licenses will be issued to social equity applicants, a provision that New York state incorporated into its law in March.


Connecticut legalized medical marijuana in 2014 and the country’s largest cannabis companies, including Curaleaf, Green Thumb Industries and Trulieve all have footprints in the state.


According to a report Cowen published in April, Connecticut’s cannabis market is expected to grow from $143 million in sales in 2020 to $164 million by the end of this year. Governor Lamont has said that adult-use sales will launch in May 2022.


Analysis by cannabis trade publication MJBizDaily projects that the Connecticut market could reach $725 million in annual sales by the end of 2025.


Connecticut’s move to create a legal recreational marijuana market makes good financial sense for the state’s coffers. In the first five years of adult-use sales, Connecticut could bring in more than $600 million in tax revenue. It is also sandwiched between states that have already passed recreational marijuana laws—Massachusetts and New York. Rhode Island is also expected to pass recreational cannabis laws soon and New Jersey and Vermont also have adult-use laws.

“The states surrounding us already, or soon will, have legal adult-use markets,” said Government Lamont. “By allowing adults to possess cannabis, regulating its sale …we’re not only effectively modernizing our laws and addressing inequities, we’re keeping Connecticut economically competitive with our neighboring states.”


Even the United Food and Commercial Workers union in Connecticut applauded the passage of the bill. “Connecticut working families need an economy that puts them first. With this bill, Connecticut can create thousands of good-paying cannabis jobs that will strengthen our communities and help to speed our economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic,” UFCW Local 371 President Ronald Petronella and UFCW Local 919 President Mark Espinosa said in a joint statement.

Starting in November 2020, a wave of states passed adult-use laws. On Election Day, Arizona, Montana and New Jersey legalized recreational cannabis. (In South Dakota, where voters passed medical and adult-use on Election Day, the Governor is attempting to overturn the will of the people.) This year, New York, New Mexico and Virginia all passed adult-use laws through legislation, which means Connecticut is the fourth state to legalize through the legislature.


About 70% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised that he and Sens. Cory Booker and Ron Wyden will introduce their cannabis legalization bill.


Boris Jordan, the billionaire chairman of Curaleaf, said that the senators’ bill should be expected soon.


“We are told that the Booker, Schumer, Wyden bill introduction (that is holistic cannabis legalization) will be introduced in July,” Jordan wrote on Twitter. “Curaleaf is fully committed to help Leader Schumer pass this important legislation to move our industry—and our country—forward!”
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Yeah, right....Lamont never used MJ just like Willie "didn't inhale".....sure. haha



Politics

Connecticut Governor Says He’s Open To Smoking Marijuana After He Signs Legalization Bill​


The governor of Connecticut said on Friday that he isn’t ruling out smoking marijuana after he formally signs a legalization bill into law next week.

While most top politicians might still demure when asked if they’d partake in cannabis given ongoing stigma and federal prohibition, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said matter-of-factly that “time will tell” when asked by a reporter if people can “expect to see the governor smoking a joint” after legalization goes into effect in the state.


News 12’s John Craven replied incredulously, “Really? You’re open to it?”

The governor first shrugged, then nodded his head yes.

“Not right now, but we’ll see” Lamont said.

Other governors in legal states have been playful about cannabis culture and their own relationship to the plant. But while a growing number of lawmakers are comfortable discussing their past marijuana use, this is a fairly remarkable exchange for the sitting top executive officer of a state.

It’s also a sign of the times, as congressional lawmakers step up the push to end federal prohibition and legalization bills move through numerous state legislatures.

Connecticut lawmakers sent Lamont an adult-use legalization bill on Thursday, and he’s confirmed his intent to sign it into law. It would make the state the 19th to have enacted the policy change and the fourth this year alone.

And while the governor has consistently emphasized the important of social equity in legalization legislation—at one point threatening to veto the bill because of a provision he felt could undermine its intent to effectively stand up disparately impacted communities—he also seems to see the personal benefits of the reform.

Similar to Lamont’s new comments, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) raised some eyebrows in 2018 when he said in an interview that he grows cannabis himself. But then a spokesperson for his office denied that he actually personally cultivates marijuana.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member

Connecticut Officially Legalizes Recreational Marijuana


After years of flirting with marijuana legalization, the state of Connecticut is finally ready to make it official.
Today, the state’s governor Ned Lamont signed legislation that legalized recreational pot use for adults aged 21 and older. The new law will officially take effect on July 1. However, retail sales aren’t expected to begin until 2022.
Lamont added his signature to a bill that finally cleared the necessary legislative hurdles last week.
Lawmakers in the state Senate last Thursday approved legislation that would legalize recreational pot use for adults. The vote marked the second time that members of the state Senate passed a legalization measure. Last week, another bill was approved in the chamber before it was amended in the state House and returned to the Senate.
The bill passed the state Senate on Thursday by a vote of 16 to 11, according to local television station NBC Connecticut. The outcome sent the legislation to the desk of Lamont, a Democrat who has made no secret of his support for marijuana legalization.



But state legislators have spent weeks ironing out the legislation. NBC Connecticut reported that “House members on Wednesday stripped an amendment the Senate previously added to the cannabis legalization bill that ensured that an ‘equity applicant’ for marijuana industry licenses, who would receive preferential status, could include people living in certain geographic areas who were previously arrested or convicted for the sale, use, manufacture or cultivation of cannabis.”
The provision would have “also applied to individuals whose parent, spouse or child was arrested or convicted of the same charges. Lamont opposed such a provision, even threatening to veto the bill if it was included.
“It’s fitting that the bill legalizing the adult use of cannabis and addressing the injustices caused by the war of drugs received final passage today, on the 50-year anniversary of President Nixon declaring the war. 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,” Lamont said in a statement, as quoted by NBC Connecticut.
He continued, “That’s why I introduced a bill and worked hard with our partners in the legislature and other stakeholders 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 create jobs.”
“By allowing adults to possess cannabis, regulating its sale and content, training police officers in the latest techniques of detecting and preventing impaired driving, and expunging the criminal records of people with certain cannabis crimes, we’re not only effectively modernizing our laws and addressing inequities, we’re keeping Connecticut economically competitive with our neighboring states,” Lamont said.
The governor also shared that legalization will ultimately be a benefit to Connecticut residents, because revenue from marijuana sales will go to recovery and prevention services. He told residents that the bill will ensure public safety, protect children and those in the community who are most vulnerable.

Legalization Comes to Connecticut After Years of Trying

Lamont has advocated legalization in Connecticut for years. In 2019, he and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo discussed a cross-state legalization policy, but that effort never really materialized, and earlier this year New York charted its own path by ending prohibition in the state.
In February, Lamont stressed the importance of forging ahead given the action being taken by Connecticut’s neighbors.
“Now our neighboring states are offering recreational marijuana on a legal and regulated basis,” Lamont said in his “State of the State” address. “Massachusetts dispensaries are advertising extensively here in Connecticut. And, rather than surrender this market to out-of-staters, or worse, to the unregulated underground market, our budget provides for the legalization of recreational marijuana.”
“Half the tax revenues should be allocated to PILOT payments, in addition to a three percent local excise tax option. And importantly, my proposed legislation authorizes the automated erasure of criminal records for those with marijuana-related drug possession, convictions, and charges,” Lamont added at the time.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member

How the New Marijuana Law Impacts Employers in CT


On June 22, 2021, Governor Lamont signed the Act Concerning Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis into law, legalizing the use of recreational marijuana in our state.



The new law allows adults (21 and older) to have on their person up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana or have up to 5 ounces in a locked container. It also allows for the expungement of some marijuana-related convictions, sets up a framework for businesses to apply for licenses to grow, manufacture, retail and distribute, and carries out restrictions on employers and protections for employees.
Many businesses have drug-free workplace environments, and it is important to understand what the new law means in the context of maintaining safety in the workplace. Many of the provisions in the law have gone into effect as of July 1, 2021, but policies related to the workplace do not go into effect until July 1, 2022, which gives you time to review them and make any necessary adjustments.
So which provisions impact you as an Employer?
  1. As an employer, you can still maintain a drug-free workplace and implement policies prohibiting the possession, use or other consumption of cannabis by an employee, except for those employees protected by the state’s medical marijuana law. If you implement a policy of this kind or are updating an existing one, you must have them in writing and make them available both to employees and prospective hires (at the time of an offer) prior to these policies going into effect.
  1. If employees use marijuana outside the workplace, you cannot take action against them unless you have made it explicitly clear in your policies. If you put into place a policy that prohibits use of marijuana outside the workplace, you need to be aware of the laws in our state limiting drug testing of current employees (with the related exemptions for certain types of employees). You must also make reasonable accommodations for those protected by the state’s medical marijuana law.
  1. Similarly, you cannot take action against or refuse to hire someone because of their use of marijuana outside the workplace before you hired them. There are exemptions here as mentioned above, for employees or prospective employees in certain positions such as those whose position requires them to operate a motor vehicle, are in a position which creates conflict with federal law or funded by a federal grant, care for children or medical-needs individuals, and a few others.
  1. Under the following circumstances you are able to take appropriate action based on:
    1. Reasonable suspicion of an employee’s use of marijuana while on the job or on call, or
    2. A determination that an employee “manifests specific, articulable symptoms of drug impairment while working at the workplace or on call that decrease or lessen the employee’s performance of the duties or tasks of the employee’s job position.”
The Act defines “articulable symptoms” to include (but not limited to):
“(i) symptoms of the employee’s speech, physical dexterity, agility, coordination, demeanor, irrational or unusual behavior, or negligence or carelessness in operating equipment [or] machinery, (ii) disregard for the safety of the employee or others, or involvement in any accident that results in serious damage to equipment or property, (iii) disruption of a production or manufacturing process, or (iv) carelessness that results in any injury to the employee or others.”
  1. If as an employer you are required to carry-out drug-testing due to compliance with federal funding guidelines, or a collective bargaining agreement that addresses it specifically, and an employee fails to pass the test (shows a positive result), you may take action regarding their employment. You may also do so if there is reasonable suspicion of use on the job, or if the employee presents the articulable symptoms described above.
While you have time to review and implement changes until July 1, 2022, you want to make sure to do so and communicate them across your workforce.
To read the full Act (300 pages) please follow this link: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2021/ACT/PA/PDF/2021PA-00001-R00SB-01201SS1-PA.PDF
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Connecticut Official Hints at Delay in Launch of Legal Cannabis Sales

Connecticut could experience a delay in launching cannabis sales in order to ensure that things are equitable.

A Connecticut state official said on Wednesday that regulators working to implement the state’s legalization of cannabis still have many details to work out before accepting applications for business licenses and hinted that the launch of legal recreational marijuana sales may be delayed.

Connecticut became the fourth state to legalize adult-use cannabis in 2021 with the signing of legislation by Governor Ned Lamont in June. The law became effective on July 1, with lawmakers originally anticipating that legal sales of recreational marijuana to begin in the summer of 2022.

However, Michelle Seagull, the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, said this week that the launch would likely come later.

“We’ve been suggesting that there will likely be sales by the end of 2022, and we’re still aspiring for that,” Seagull told local media. “Obviously, we have to see how things play out in the next few months.”

Seagull told the audience at a “Business of Cannabis” breakfast held by the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning that state regulators are still ironing out some of the details of legalization. One issue still being discussed is how to protect the existing market for medical marijuana, which began operating in 2012. Connecticut now has 18 licensed medical cannabis dispensaries across the state, all of which will be permitted to apply for a license to sell recreational cannabis, as well.

“It’s really important to us that we preserve the medical marketplace that currently does exist,” Seagull said. ‘It’s important to us that that market, which is working well and helping a lot of people, doesn’t get swallowed up.”

Many Decisions Left To Social Equity Council​

Seagull also noted that many decisions still to be made, including what documentation will be necessary for social equity applicants, will be the responsibility of a social equity council appointed by Lamont and lawmakers. The 15-member panel met for the first time last month.

When asked about “large corporations trying to circumvent rules” to obtain social equity licenses, Seagull said that decision will be made by the social equity council, which will “need to take a look at ownership and corporate documents to understand who truly controls the business.”

An audience member, Matthew Ossenfort, said that he was considering a change in careers to the cannabis industry after 18 years in fashion. He asked if the criteria for social equity applicants could be expanded to include race, gender and sexual identity in order to more expressly prioritize participation in the cannabis industry by members of diverse groups.

“I hope the commissioner takes that question seriously, because my biggest fear is that if they only look at qualifications based on income, a bunch of licenses are going to go to people who can’t afford to actually get these businesses up and running, and the other licenses will all go to millionaires,” Ossenfort said. “The middle class should have a way into this industry, too.”

Kurt Smith, a panelist at the business breakfast who works as a consultant assisting cannabis businesses with licensing, planning, licensing and design, told the audience that legalization will affect many business sectors in Connecticut outside of the marijuana industry.

“They’re creating an entirely new industry that’s going to reach all of the businesses in this room,” Smith said. “The capital-intensive nature of this business makes it difficult for these companies to start up and have all of their own infrastructure, like HR and IT departments, so I think the ancillary business market is going to see that there is a lot of opportunity here.”

Smith is also a co-founder of Four Score, a licensed cannabis cultivator and retailer in Massachusetts. He suggested that Connecticut follow that state’s lead by making funding available to social equity applicants, noting that “many of the people who get social equity licenses won’t just have $20,000 sitting around to hire an architect.”

Smith also advised that rolling out Connecticut’s adult-use cannabis market will require patience and people should not expect regulations to be drafted right away.

“It’s going to take longer than everybody thinks,” Smith said. “It’s not going to happen on that timetable, because it always takes extra time to get these things right.”
 

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