Legal marijuana part three


The third and final bill aimed at legalizing marijuana in Connecticut is headed to a third committee vote within the next two weeks.

This third and final piece of the legal marijuana puzzle involves the tax rate and where all that new revenue would go. It’s estimated to raise over $100 million a year.

Over the past few weeks, one bill to establish rules for selling marijuana has passed one committee and a bill to remove criminal records for those convicted of possession of small amounts of marijuana in the past has been approved by another. The final step is the Finance Committee piece, the money piece.

News 8 has learned that the final marijuana bill that’s emerging would result in approximately 20 percent in taxes on legal pot.

That’s similar to Massachusetts, so legal cannabis here would be at competitive prices to those over the border.

The current drafting of the bill would also designate all new revenue raised from taxes on marijuana as going to invest in city neighborhoods and in low education performance city school zones, like New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport. It’s a concept at least partially endorsed by Senate President Pro tem Martin Looney of New Haven, a principal backer of legal marijuana.

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He said, “I think there has to be some municipal retainage of some of the funds where the dispensaries and the stores are set up.”

Governor Lamont, who also strongly favors legalizing marijuana, was non-committal on this concept on Thursday, but said he’d look at it.

Republican Representative Chris Davis (R-Elllington) is a ranking member of the Finance Committee. He opposes legalization, but said if it’s going to happen, this funding plan is a problem.

He added, “Seems to be a money grab for a new revenue source that benefits a select few communities at the detriment of the children and families all over Connecticut that would be impacted by the legalization of a drug.”

Davis said there are better ways to spend any new revenue from marijuana sales, and said, “I’m concerned about that the money wouldn’t be directed against opioid use across Connecticut, public safety or other public health initiatives.”

The plan is to get this through the Finance Committee before the committee’s May 2nd deadline, then combine all three of these pieces and bring it up for final votes in the House and Senate.

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