Connecticut Senate passes recreational marijuana bill, now heads to Gov. Lamont’s desk for signature

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The State Senate passed the recreational marijuana legalization bill Thursday.

The bill will allow adults to possess 1.5 oz. of marijuana beginning this July and up to five oz. locked in a vehicle, glove compartment or trunk. People can also grow their own plants.

Those who wish to sell marijuana will have to get a certificate from the state. An equity commission will be formed to make sure those living in communities with poverty and those who were harmed by the War on Drugs are first in line for licenses to sell marijuana.

In a statement Thursday, Gov. Lamont said he looks forward to signing Senate Bill 1201 when it reaches his office.

“By allowing adults to possess cannabis, regulating its sale and content, training police officers in the latest techniques of detecting and preventing impaired driving, and expunging the criminal records of people with certain cannabis crimes, we’re not only effectively modernizing our laws and addressing inequities, we’re keeping Connecticut economically competitive with our neighboring states,” Lamont said. “Connecticut residents will benefit from the portion of cannabis revenues that will be dedicated to prevention and recovery services. This measure is comprehensive, protects our children and the most vulnerable in our communities, and will be viewed as a national model for regulating the adult-use cannabis marketplace.”

This is the third time senators took up the controversial bill after it was changed several times. The governor’s prior threat to veto the bill is what brought it back into the Senate Thursday.

“I’ve been around here for 11 years. This is the first time I’ve seen voting on the same bill three times in less than two weeks. It’s a lot,” said State Sen. Kevin Kelly.

The bill requires police officer standards and training council to issue guidance on how officers must decide whether someone has too much marijuana in their possession. If a person is ticketed, they are allowed to pay the fine through the mail.

Criminal records for small amounts of marijuana will be erased. You can gift marijuana for free to a friend. There are penalties for feeding the substance to a pet.

“Our bill I think will be a national model for those states in the future trying to maintain more local control and to make sure the communities that are affected or have been affected over the years by what has happened with the criminalization of cannabis will have a chance to get some of the benefit of this legalization,” said State Sen. Martin Looney.


PREVIOUS COVERAGE: The State Senate is heading back to the State Capitol again, as they are expected to take a final vote on the recreational marijuana legalization bill.

The State House passed the recreational marijuana bill late Wednesday evening, with a total vote of 76 to 62.

This legislation has been twisted, amended, and re-written. Lawmakers took out language from the Senate bill that Governor Ned Lamont objected to, saying he would have vetoed it.

Some said that language would have opened the floodgates to selling pot, which is not equitable.

“This has been attempted for years,” State Rep. Jason Rojas (D) said. “It’s a long time coming. We got a lot of good people around the table. We had leadership from Governor Lamont on this bill. And we were able to work out the details that were really difficult and achieve a lot of the goals people had for the legislation.”

“I think the heavy commercialization of the drug, we are going to see a proliferation of this drug in all sorts of forms,” said House Minority Leader Vin Candelora (R). “And the bill is starting to recognize the issues with the commercialized use and capping the THC levels, and I think we need to look at the different products that are definitely going to be marketed to kids.”

Lawmakers did add a provision to prevent state officials from profiting off the new industry after they leave office.

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