When the Connecticut General Assembly convened in January, lawmakers wasted no time introducing several bills to legalize adult use cannabis. While the state currently has a medical cannabis program in place, more reform appears to be on the horizon. If a bill is passed by both House and Senate, it’s likely that Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont would be on board with legalization.
In his first state budget address, Gov. Lamont recognized an adult-use market as potential revenue for the state. Along with other proposals, he called for “legalized recreational marijuana like our neighbors, that will be carefully regulated for a safer market, with tax.” And according to the state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, Connecticut could potentially see $45.4 million, up to $104.6 million in tax revenue annually.
At this point, the most detailed option is HB 5595 which was co-sponsored by 40 state representatives. Two others, HB 6863 and SB 744 are general calls to expand the medical cannabis program and legalize, regulate and tax “recreational” cannabis sales.
Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), had this to say about the early proposals, “Some of them are just shells with no real language… The real question is what path this will end up taking through the legislature.”
What Adult Use Would Look Like Under HB 5595
Though brief, HB 5595 provides the most robust outline for adult use cannabis in Connecticut. The bill includes the following highlights:
- Retail sales of adult use cannabis will be legal for those 21 years of age and older
- Adults will also be able to home grow up to 6 plants for personal use only
- The Department of Consumer Protection will be responsible for program oversight
- Currently licensed (medical) dispensaries will have first priority for adult use licensing
- Driving while impaired and public consumption will be prohibited
- Marketing will be prohibited and packaging must be child-safe and clearly labeled
- Ensures that medical cannabis will not be subject to adult use sales or excise taxes
- Expunges records for anyone who has been convicted for cannabis possession
In addition, HB 5595 requires that tax revenue from retail sales will be applied to the following: drug awareness education and substance abuse treatment, cannabis testing, studies focused on the effect of cannabis legalization and consumption, stationing drug-prevention officers at schools, and developing a program to prevent distracted driving and driving under the influence of cannabis.
The next step for the bill that garners the most support will be a legislative committee that will continue to add and adjust the language. With a committee vote in favor of moving it forward, the revised bill will then go to the floor of the Connecticut General Assembly, both House and Senate, for even more debate and eventually voting. The final stop will be Gov. Lamont’s desk.
Will Adult Use Cannabis in Connecticut Become a Reality?
Though there are those who oppose legalizing adult use cannabis, the early bill proposals by lawmakers and support of Gov. Lamont are certainly good signs.
As for public sentiment regarding adult use cannabis in Connecticut, the most recent data from an October 2017 poll conducted by Sacred Heart University shows that 71% of residents either strongly support or somewhat support legalizing and taxing cannabis in the context of the state’s budget crisis.
And according to Matt Simon, “The good news is, the mood is on. They’re really talking about these things, and soon I expect there will be public hearings and public committee action advancing one or more of these bills.”
At Medicine Man Technologies, we’re hoping that the momentum and support will continue to build in the months to come. It’s certainly a positive start, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on all progress.
If you wish to start your own legal enterprise in the U.S. or anywhere across the globe, please contact us for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.