HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — As News 8 first reported last week, legalizing marijuana is definitely on the agenda for the new legislative session in Hartford that starts in less than two weeks. The push is on to pass it in the Assembly, but there is also talk about putting it to the voters.
“I think the time has come, we need to recognize it; there’s broad based public support for it.”– Senator Martin Looney (D-New Haven)
Top Democrats in the State Senate say with all the states around us either having legal cannabis or moving forward with it, this should be the year to do it here.
“We should be at the forefront of demonstrating to other states how it should be done so that individuals and others can get involved with this system from seed cultivation to sell.”– Senator Douglas McCrory (D-CT)
Language approved by three legislative committees last year included expungement for those convicted of past cannabis-selling-related crimes, and targeting urban communities for growing and retail licences, and a $50 per ounce excise tax, plus the 6.35% sales tax on cannabis.
But opponents say serious abuse problems are popping up in the ten states that have already done this.
“That’s why we’re seeing a push to bring it to the voters for a constitutional vote as opposed to sitting in a room and taking all the data in. Legislators are realizing it’s a bad idea.”– Representative Vincent Candelora (R-CT)
But the Governor says it’s inevitable.
“At some point, we’re not going to surrender cannabis to the black market. We’re going to have it as part of a regional, regulated market.”– Governor Ned Lamont (D-CT)
Last year was the first full year of legal cannabis in Massachusetts. With just two stores, they grossed over $400 million. Tax receipts have not been released, but the proposed Connecticut tax rates are higher.
The cannabis tax scheme is estimated to raise over $160 million per year. That’s about as much as Governor Lamont’s plan to put highway tolls on tractor trailer trucks.