Gov. Ned Lamont is calling for the legalization of marijuana in Connecticut, declaring it one of his top priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
On Wednesday, Feb. 24, Lamont made his pitch for legal weed in the Nutmeg State, citing a need for increased revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the traditionally disproportionate treatment of people of color who are arrested on marijuana possession charges.
Lamont acknowledged that it could potentially be an uphill battle to legalize, and that he could face opposition on his proposal, saying that “this is the beginning of a discussion, not the end of a discussion.”
“This has been a long time coming. We have been talking about this for ages,” he said. “I think now is the time for legalized adult-use recreational marijuana in a carefully regulated way with an emphasis on equity and justice.”
In proposing Senate Bill 888, Lamont made note that “war on cannabis did little to protect public health and safety, and instead caused significant injustices for many residents, especially people in black and brown communities.”
Lamont also noted that marijuana is slowly being legalized in neighboring states and de-criminalized largely across the country.
The bill “proposes a comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of adult-use cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”
If passed, the bill would erase marijuana possession convictions prior to Oct. 1, 2015, and an Equity Commission will be tasked with advising “on the implementation of the legal cannabis market and will be charged with ensuring that people and places most affected by the cannabis prohibition benefit from the new legal market.”
Lamont said that it has been proven that marijuana prohibition does not work.
"It created a lot of alcohol poisoning. It wasn't called the 'roaring 20s' 'cause everybody gave up alcohol. And Al Capone and the underground market took over for a period of time and they learned and they stopped and alcohol was a carefully regulated market," Lamont said. "Now is the time to make that change as well.”
Under Lamont’s proposal, recreational use of cannabis would be legalized for anyone over the age of 21. Cities and towns would be allowed to zone out where cannabis businesses are opened.
If marijuana is legalized in Connecticut, under the plan, certain restrictions would be in place:
- No homegrown pot would be allowed;
- There would be a limit of 1.5 ounces allowed on a person at any given time;
- “Drugged driving” could lead to a driver’s license suspension.
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