Assuming the measure passes, sales would not become legal until January 1, 2020
Starting in July, marijuana will be legal for adult recreational use is Massachusetts. With the date looming ahead of them, the Connecticut legislature is feeling compelled to take action.
“I’ve long been a proponent of the legalization of marijuana, but I think the urgency is such now that we have to act; we have to act before the state of Massachusetts regulates the possession or sale of marijuana in our state for us,” Rep. Steve Stafstrom said during a debate of SB 487.
Given the close proximity of Massachusetts and the fact that possession under half an ounce is only punishable by fines, Stafstrom’s statement is pertinent.
SB 487, if passed, would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and permit the cultivation of six plants her adult. All adults aged 21 and over would be able to purchase product from state-regulated dispensaries.
The bill would also create a network of marijuana lounges, place focus on small business development, and create a new regulating authority: the Connecticut State Liquor and Marijuana Control Commission. It has strong support, including the backing on Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney.
According to Looney, the legislation will place focus on creating policies that encourage applications from area that “have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition.” The application fees will be based on the size of facility and number of plants, keeping the costs low.
However, anyone with drug-related infractions or misdemeanors will not be permitted to obtain business licenses. This aspect of the proposed legislation is seen as problematic to some.
For example, in Massachusetts, these restrictions are not in place. Seth Wakeman, who has taken on a strong roll in the fledgling legal industry in his state, would not be allowed to do the same in Connecticut as he drug-related convictions stemming from cultivating marijuana inside of his home. This seems in conflict with the legislature’s stated goal of helping areas harmed by marijuana prohibition.
Senator Douglas McCroy agrees and has stated that he will not stand behind measures that do not focus on bettering communities that have been negatively impacted by past and current marijuana laws. Citing California and Massachusetts as examples, he wants to see those with prior convictions allowed to transition from the black market into the legal market.
In addition to SB 487, there is a partner bill being debated in the house: HB 5458. During its public hearings, concerns were expressed over allowing residents to cultivate their own plants. Representative Vin Candelora, who is on record opposing recreational marijuana, stated he considers this aspect of the bill to be in direct opposition to a regulated market.
However, it is in line with laws for recreational use in other states.
Should the measure pass, municipalities would be allowed to decide if they will permit marijuana lounges and dispensaries. Products would be taxed and would need to be in child-resistant packaging. Retailers would also need to pay a $50 surcharge per ounce of flower to the Connecticut State Department of Revenue Services.
Assuming the measure passes, sales would not become legal until January 1, 2020.