Connecticut All Set to Become The 19th State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

The state of Connecticut is all set to become the 19th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. On Wednesday night, the state’s House of Representatives passed legislation. Moreover, the lawmakers in Connecticut approved a social equity-focused, recreational marijuana market on Thursday. 

Furthermore, within a few years, the recreational marijuana market will generate $700 million in sales. In 2021, it will become the fourth state legislature to approve adult-use cannabis. The only thing that is still required to make it official is the signature of Democratic Governor Ned Lamont.

The Governor said that he intends to approve the bill on Thursday. Also, by a vote of 16-11, the Senate agreed with a House version. 

The Senate abandoned an amendment in approving the House version. They dropped the social equity amendment that Lamont had objected to.

MJBizDaily, in a recent post, discusses the legalization of recreational marijuana in Connecticut.

Governor’s Statement

Governor Lamont released a statement on the final approval of adult-use cannabis legalization. He looks forward to signing the bill. Moreover, he said that he wants to move beyond this terrible period of incarceration and injustice.

He said that the war on cannabis caused injustices and increased disparities in the state. It did not protect our health and safety. Black and Brown communities suffered a lot during this time.

It is why Lamont introduced a bill that would help eliminate the dangerous and unregulated markets. Moreover, it will support new and growing sectors of the economy, which would create job opportunities.

Special Treatment

Even though Lamont has shown support in legalizing cannabis, his signature was not a given. He threatened to veto the legislation earlier this week. He did it over an amendment holding those people with past cannabis convictions would be given priority status for licenses.

According to Lamont, it was not specific enough. He argued that wealthy people with cannabis records should not receive special treatment. They are not the same as people that belong to communities impacted by the Drug Wars. For those seeking priority, the legislature has set an income limit.

Comprehensive Measure

Apparently, the twist was enough to reduce Lamont’s concerns. He wrote in a statement that this measure is comprehensive. It protects the most vulnerable people in our communities. Also, it shields our children.

Furthermore, as a national model for regulating the adult-use cannabis marketplace, it will be viewed. With this, Lamont announced his intent to sign the bill.

Communities that are most affected by the war on drugs are under the target of the social equity provisions. Moreover, it intends to bring more entrepreneurs from the minority into the state’s legal marijuana industry.

Predictions

The Senate Bill 1201 contains nearly 300 pages. It does not specify when the market should start. However, previously, Lamont targeted May 2022 as the launch date.

Furthermore, predictions have been regarding the sales of the Connecticut adult-use marijuana market. In its first full year, the market could generate $250 million in sales. Moreover, it could make $725 million in its fourth year.

Marijuana Legalization

This year many states have legalized recreational marijuana through state legislatures. Connecticut is the latest in these states. New York, Virginia, and New Mexico have already legalized marijuana.

At the November 2020 ballot box, a clean sweep of adult-use measures followed. Voters from states in Montana, New Jersey, Arizona, and South Dakota approved recreational marijuana initiatives.

A lower court struck down the adult-use marijuana initiative in South Dakota. The South Dakota Supreme Court is currently deciding the issue.

Maximum Potential

On Wednesday night Karen O’Keefe released a statement. She is the director of state policies of the Marijuana Policy Project. Karen said that state legislatures are capable of rising to the challenge. This year they have shown us their potential to end cannabis prohibition.

The majority of Americans have made their intentions clear. Rather than the status quo, they favor a system of legalization and regulation. Karen said that this victory would add to the momentum towards cannabis policy reform. It will happen in other states as well as the federal level.

The Ripple Effect

Along the East Coast, Connecticut also reflects the legalization ripple effect. There are many newly legalized recreational marijuana states on the Eastern Seaboard. Massachusetts and Maine have markets in operation. 

Lamont noted in a statement regarding the legalization of marijuana in Connecticut. It will keep the state economically competitive with the neighboring states.

Additionally, in Delaware and Rhode Island, adult-use legalization is being considered. Moreover, as soon as next year, it is expected that Maryland will pass the measure.

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Social Equity

The social equity provisions of Connecticut include a requirement to reserve 50% of applications for social equity applicants. The new licenses will be mostly issues by lottery. According to a Marijuana Policy Project bill summary, it will provide an equal opportunity to those who qualify.

As soon as this summer, existing medical marijuana cultivators could apply for an adult-use license. However, they would have to pay $3 million in fees. Additionally, a $1.5 million fee if they create at least two social-equity joint ventures.

MMJ Market

In September, Connecticut launched a medical marijuana market. It has four MMJ producers and 18 dispensaries. Several multistate operators have spent tens of millions of dollars to enter Connecticut’s MMJ market in the past two years.

Illinois-headquartered Green Thumb Industries and Florida-based Trulieve are two of the major companies. In October 2014, Massachusetts-based MSO Curaleaf began wholesale MMJ. 

It is one of the big players, which has four of 18 dispensary licenses. Also, it has one of four producer licenses after additional acquisitions in 2020.

Specifications

The adult-use measure has many requirements. One of them is to make a “good-faith effort” to enter into a labor peace agreement before receiving the final license.

Below are some of the other key business elements of the measure:

Through zoning laws, local jurisdictions could prohibit retail sales. However, to approve adult-use stores, residents could petition for a local referendum.

Districts would be limited to one marijuana retailer. Also, one micro-cultivator per 25,000 citizens until July 1, 2024.

A sales tax of 3% will have to be collected by municipalities that allow recreational marijuana sales. A sales tax of 6.35% would apply to product sales.

Conclusion

Finally, Connecticut legalized recreational marijuana after years of failed attempts. Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill to legalize the use and cultivation of recreational cannabis. Moreover, it will erase thousands of past convictions for possession.

Furthermore, both the houses of the state legislature passed the bill. After Lamont’s signature, Connecticut became the 19th state to legalize recreational marijuana. According to Lamont, this measure is comprehensive. It protects the most vulnerable people in our communities and our children.

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