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Lamont Signs Legislation Legalizing Cannabis In Connecticut

Governor Ned Lamont this afternoon signed into law legislation that legalizes and safely regulates the adult-use of cannabis in Connecticut.
Governor Ned Lamont this afternoon signed into law legislation that legalizes and safely regulates the adult-use of cannabis in Connecticut. Video Credit: Governor Ned Lamont

Gov. Ned Lamont made it official and signed a bill into law legalizing the adult use of cannabis in Connecticut.

Lamont signed legislation on Tuesday, June 22 that will legalize and regulate the use of marijuana in Connecticut with a bill that “contains comprehensive reforms that address many areas, including equity, criminal justice, public health, and public safety.”

“For decades, the war on cannabis caused injustices and created disparities while doing little to protect public health and safety,” Lamont said. “The law that I signed today begins to right some of those wrongs by creating a comprehensive framework for a regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, criminal justice, and equity.”

Recreational marijuana is legalized for anyone over the age of 21 in Connecticut as of Thursday, July 1.

“This will help eliminate the dangerous, unregulated market and support a new and equitable sector of our economy that will create jobs,” Lamont added. “The states surrounding us already, or soon will have legal adult-use markets.

Adults will not be permitted to have more than an ounce and a half of marijuana on their person, and no more than five ounces in their homes or locked in their car, truck, or glove box.

“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,” Lamont added.

Selling, manufacturing, or cultivating cannabis will require a license from the state, and those unlicensed by the state may gift marijuana but not sell it.

Patients participating in Connecticut’s medical marijuana program will be permitted to cultivate up to six cannabis plants - three mature, three immature - within their homes as of Oct. 1 this year. Adults over the age of 21 will be permitted the same as of July 1, 2023.

Additionally, certain cannabis-related convictions that occurred between Jan. 1, 2000, and Oct. 1, 2015, will be automatically erased. Those seeking to erase cannabis-related convictions outside of that period will require petitioning.

“To start the necessary work of repairing the damage caused by decades of failed cannabis criminalization policies, the law implements equitable marketplace requirements under which at least half of all initial licenses are reserved for social equity applicants, targeting those communities that have been most negatively impacted by the so-called war on drugs,” officials noted.

“The Social Equity Council, which is created by this legislation, will launch programs and supports for social equity applicants in the cannabis market.”

Under the law, there will be a 3 percent sales tax for municipalities where marijuana is sold, a 6.35 percent state sales tax, and a tax based on the THC content of the product, which will be 2.75 cents per milligram of THC edibles; 0.625 cents per milligram of THC for cannabis flower; and 0.9 cents per milligram of THC for all other product types.

Officials noted that Connecticut generally will have approximately a 4 percent lower tax rate than New York and about the same as Massachusetts.

“Portions of the revenue obtained from retail sales of cannabis will be directed to communities that have been most negatively impacted by the war on drugs through the creation of the Social Equity and Innovation Fund,” they noted.

“Funding from this account will be appropriated for use by the Social Equity Council to provide business capital, technical assistance for business start-ups and operations, workforce education, and community investments.”

The law will adapt the state’s framework in preventing alcohol sales to minor, with it being a Class A misdemeanor to sell or provide cannabis to a person under 21 years old.

In addition, an individual allowing someone under 21 years old to loiter at a cannabis store will receive a $1,000 fine on the first offense with subsequent offenses as a Class B misdemeanor.

It will be a Class D misdemeanor for a person under the age of 21 to lie about their age or use a fake ID in an attempt to buy cannabis. Delivery services will be required to use online ID and age verification.

According to Lamont, the new law will direct new funding to prevention and recovery services, “which will be used to help prevent cannabis use by minors and to promote safe, healthy use of cannabis by those of legal age.”

“This measure is comprehensive, protects our children and the most vulnerable in our communities, and will be viewed as a national model for regulating adult-use cannabis,” he said. “By signing this into law today, we are helping our state move beyond this terrible period of incarceration and injustice.”

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