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Governor of Connecticut Drafts Bill to Legalize Cannabis

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Governor of Connecticut Ned Lamont (D) has been soliciting feedback from state agencies as he circles the draft of his bill to legalize Connecticut cannabis. Hoping to enact the policy change in 2021, Lamont reiterated his intention to legalize marijuana during his annual State of the State address earlier in January, saying that he will be working closely with the legislature for a better chance of advancing reform this session. 

Lamont also talked about the importance of keeping industries like marijuana as part of the state market, as surrounding states in the Northeast race to legalize

“Let’s not surrender these opportunities to out-of-state markets or, even worse, underground markets,” Lamont stated during his speech. 

Details of the Drafted Legislation 

The draft legislation seeks to establish a tax-and-regulate cannabis market in Connecticut. According to a report by the CT Mirror, wholesale marijuana flowered would be subject to a $1.25 per gram tax, with trimmed plants taxed at 50 cents per gram. Connecticut’s 6.35 percent sales tax would also be imposed on retail cannabis purchases, including a 3 percent surge tax whose revenue would be partly allocated towards local jurisdictions. 

The legislation also provides automatic expungements for individuals with low-level marijuana convictions that occurred before October 1, 2015. Offenders convicted after that date will have to appear in court in order to petition for relief. 

Lamont Hopes 2021 Will Be the Year of Legal Connecticut Cannabis 

Legislature in the state of Connecticut has considered adult-use cannabis legalization proposals on several different occasions in prior years, though they all stalled. However, there is increased optimism from advocates in the state that 2021 may be a year of reform. 

While the prospect of passing might be stronger than in recent years, notable lawmakers have been staunch that they will not support the legalization of marijuana with adequate social equity considerations and a commitment to reinvest in communities that were most impacted by the war on drugs. 

Whether Lamont’s draft will meet the demands of social justice reform advocates remains to be seen, though we could find out as early as next month if the governor includes the proposal in his budget request. 

Contributed by Jack Berning

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