On Tuesday, Governor Dannel Malloy signed a bill that legalizes the possession and use of recreational marijuana in Connecticut. The legislation, which passed on November 2017, allows people 21 and over to possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana for personal use. It also allows adults to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes, as long as the plants are no more than 12 inches from other plants and are not in public view. Finally, it permits the personal use of marijuana in any form: solid, liquid, or tablet.
On December 18, 2015, Connecticut became the first US state to legalize recreational cannabis use. The law allows individuals over the age of 21 to possess up to a 1/2 ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants. The law does not regulate, tax, or limit the sale of marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law. The law will take effect in July 2016, and is set to replace the state’s medical marijuana program. It is one of the most progressive laws in the country, but it still has a long way to go before it will be a model for the rest of the country.
On November 8, Connecticut became the fifth state in the United States to legalize the use of recreational cannabis. This means that adults in the state can now grow, smoke, and buy marijuana legally. According to the original law, adults aged 21 and older could legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana, six mature marijuana plants, and six immature plants. Adults aged 18 and up could legally possess up to a quarter-ounce of marijuana, three mature plants, and three immature plants.
Last week, the Connecticut Senate voted to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults, and today Governor Ned Lamont (D) signed the bill into law.
A bill to legalize cannabis for anyone over 21 would allow sales starting in May 2022.
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Although all Republican senators and four Democrats opposed the bill and nine senators did not participate in the vote, the bill ultimately passed by a 16-11 vote. Anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of the war on drugs.
The war on cannabis, which has essentially been a war on people in black and brown communities, has not only led to injustice and greater inequality in our state, but has also done little to protect public health and safety, Governor Ned Lamont (D) said in a statement.
Senate Bill 1201 would take effect Jan. 1. July to allow possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana for people 21 and older. Commercial sales could begin as early as May 2022.
Marijuana is taxed at 6.35%, the state’s general sales tax, plus an additional excise tax based on THC content. Initially, 60 percent of the money will be used for reinvestment in areas hardest hit by the war on drugs, 25 percent will go to drug prevention and recovery services, and 15 percent of the money raised will go to the state’s general fund. Individual municipalities may also choose to add a 3% tax to fund municipal reinvestment projects. These percentages change over time, with the amount allocated to the Social Equity and Innovation Fund eventually rising to 75%.
The bill also prohibits law enforcement officers from using the odor or suspicion of marijuana possession to justify a search, and employers from discriminating against cannabis users. From 1. In July next year, individuals will be able to petition to have cannabis and paraphernalia charges dropped. Most cases of ordinary firearms possession will be automatically revoked from 2023 onwards.
Governor Lamont expressed his satisfaction with the completion of the bill. When asked if he could try cannabis himself, he replied: Time will tell.
However, his main focus seems to be on social justice.
Our neighboring states already have or will soon have legal adult markets. By allowing adult possession of cannabis, regulating its sale and content, training police officers in the latest techniques to detect and prevent drunk driving, and eliminating criminal records for certain cannabis offenses, we are modernizing our laws and eliminating inequities while keeping Connecticut economically competitive with neighboring states, the governor added.
Lamont’s fight for social equality
This was the second time these senators had seen the form of the bill. They first brought amendments that brought the bill back to the House of Representatives for heated debate. Governor Lamont has been advocating for marijuana legalization for some time, but has threatened to veto it because of problems with access rules for social justice programs. The bill requires that half of all operating licenses be awarded to socially just applicants.
The argument is that a change in the law would treat people from disadvantaged and overpopulated areas the same as people with a marijuana registry, but without widespread discrimination. Under the amendments, a well-to-do, privileged family in which a child has been arrested for marijuana possession would have as much right to a social equity permit as someone from a community suffering from unfair police conduct. The Governor believes that communities that have been historically discriminated against and disproportionately impacted by drug laws should be treated differently, with a greater emphasis on addressing those impacts.
…This proposal opens the floodgates to tens of thousands of applicants who were previously unlicensed to enter the adult-use cannabis industry. This last minute change creates justice in name only by giving these people expedited access to the market. Governor Lamont has said from the beginning that this legislation is designed to give those hardest hit by the war on drugs a fair chance to enter this new industry. This amended measure does not meet the judicial goals and needs of our state, Governor Lamont’s Chief of Staff said in a statement.
Then the bill changed again. It now specifies that a social justice applicant must have a median family income of less than 300% of the federal median family income and must have lived in a disproportionately affected area for at least nine years of his or her childhood and at least half of the last decade prior to application. The bill also provides that the disproportionately affected area must either have an unemployment rate greater than 10% or a historical drug conviction rate greater than one-tenth.
SB 1201 also provides that legislators, elected officials, anyone whose career has to do with the regulation of cannabis, and anyone serving on a social justice board may not apply for a license in the cannabis industry until he or she has been employed outside the state for two years or more.
Democratic Senator Gary Winfield expressed support for the bill, saying it would address drug policies that have disproportionately affected communities of color in the state’s history.
I can’t tell you how many people have asked me why I brought up race in the debate on cannabis legalization. In a conversation about the war on drugs, aren’t we going to talk about race? ! I’m just telling you – that’s not why I’m here, Senator Winfield wrote on Twitter. Believe what you want, but don’t come to me pretending the story isn’t what it is and expect a happy answer. You’ll find something very different here.
The House of Representatives finally approved the revised bill by a majority of 14 votes, 76-62.
There are still fines for certain things. Adults under the age of 21 caught with a small amount of marijuana will be fined $50 for the first offense and $150 for subsequent offenses or face community service. And possession of more than 1.5 ounces is still illegal. The sale of cannabis to minors is punishable by a misdemeanor, one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Overall, however, the governor is hopeful that things will ease up.
The measure is comprehensive, protects our children and most vulnerable populations, and would serve as a national model for regulating the cannabis market for adult use.
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