HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — By a slim margin, Governor Ned Lamont’s bill to allow adult Connecticut residents to use recreational marijuana has passed a key committee.
Nearly one-third of the country has legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use.
Last week, New York legalized pot. And Virginia and New Mexico are poised to do the same.
Late Tuesday, the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted 22 to 16 in favor of Governor Lamont’s bill to legalize recreational pot in our state.
The bill is now 200-plus pages. It regulates and taxes the adult use of small amounts of recreational marijuana.
State Rep. Steve Stafstrom, the Democratic Chair of the Judiciary Committee says, “This is a drug that is widely believed to be less addictive and harmful to the body than many of the drugs we already legalize here in Connecticut, including alcohol and tobacco.”
There are several updates to the original bill including:
- Allowing six plants homegrown by approved medical patients
- Revenues split among social equity efforts, recovery grants, and state general fund
- Local Zoning protections
- THC cap on potency
- Erase criminal records for simple possession
- Training for police departments on “Drugged Driving”
- Only equity applicants and existing medical retailers can sell through Jan. 2024
Republican State Rep. Tom O’Dea of New Canaan believes the bill will not help clean up the street sales.
“Youths will not be allowed to buy in sanctioned stores,” O’Dea said. “They’re always going to be buying on the black market.”
Pot policy is all over the map, literally, nationwide.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of cannabis for adult recreational use. Others allow for only medicinal marijuana use, and some ban it altogether.
State Senator Will Haskell a Democrat from Westport says it’s about safety. “Too many of our constituents purchase cannabis on an illicit and illegal market. They are consuming an unregulated substance that could be laced with fentanyl and lead to really dangerous overdose scenarios.”
Under federal law, marijuana is still an illegal substance.
Several states have urged Congress to clarify its position on the legality of marijuana under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
“The illegal market is not going away. This bill makes it easier to do so,” added State Senator Dan Champagne a Republican from Vernon.
The bill, as the chair noted, is a work-in-progress. As currently written, 18-year-olds could work behind the counter and sell marijuana even though it’s illegal for them to smoke it. The bill now goes to the Finance Committee.