A New State Is On Its Way To Legalize Marijuana
Connecticut legislators are working on passing a cannabis bill to legalize marijuana in the state. This bill is now being backed by the governor which has been passed on Friday in another committee. This approval could be setting it up for a floor vote this upcoming week.
This piece of legislation arrives as Gov. Ned Lamont’s office and legislative administrators work to resolve differences. House Majority Leader Jason Rojas stated this past week that the plan was to reach an agreement by the week’s end. As well as having an expectation of “acting on it sometime next week” in the Senate.
The Appropriations Committee pushed through the governor’s proposal. Which was also passed in the Judiciary Committee last month. The latest development sets the scene for a floor vote in the Senate. This is where the bill could be revised to reflect a new agreement. Which has been both backed by Lamont and lawmakers.
But time is running out to clear this reform bill in the upcoming legislative session, which will be over June 9. As well both parties are involved in the negotiations of the legal process. To which they said they’d favor avoiding tackling the issue in a special session. Even though that has been brought up as a backup plan.
“SB 888 continues to make its way through the legislative process having now cleared its second major committee with a solid majority voting in support of legalization,” DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel at the Marijuana Policy Project, said in an interview. “It’s another indication that the legislature is quickly moving to pass legalization prior to the June 9th end of session deadline.”
Connecticut Will Vote To Legalize Cannabis
House Speaker Matt Ritter said this week that his confidence about the prospects of passing the bill has increased. Which is being based on talks he’s had with associates.
“I’ve sort of been struck by just having conversations as words gets out that the majority leader’s working group is making progress with the governor’s office–and I’m struck by the number of people who I thought were noes previously, or maybe who are kind of getting there,” he said.
Ritter said that he now feels there’s a 57-43 chance that the legislation is approved, whereas he previously gave it a 50-50 chance.
Ritter also states that he now feels there’s a 57-43 probability that the legislation is passed. Yet at one time he once gave it a 50-50 projection.
Discussions with the governor’s office to agree on terms have mostly focused on social equity. As Rojas states the policy is about “ensuring that entrance of the marketplace is able to be accessed by communities and individuals who live in the communities who have been most impacted by the war on drugs.”
Meanwhile, the governor of Connecticut this past Monday made states about the bill. The governor and legislative administrators are having “good, strong negotiations,” and there’s “broad agreement” on policies regarding public health and safety. There’s “growing agreement” concerning the use of tax revenue from cannabis sales to reinvest in communities. Mainly for those disproportionately harmed by prohibition and the war on drugs.
Final Thoughts On Connecticut Passing Cannabis Reform This Session
If a legalization proposal isn’t passed in 2021, Lamont stated earlier in May that the issue could ultimately go before voters.
“Marijuana is sort of interesting to me. When it goes to a vote of the people through some sort of a referendum, it passes overwhelmingly. When it goes through a legislature and a lot of telephone calls are made, it’s slim or doesn’t pass,” the governor said. “We’re trying to do it through the legislature. Folks are elected to make a decision, and we’ll see where it goes. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up in a referendum.”
Ritter similarly said last year that if the legislature isn’t able to pass a legalization bill, he will move to put a question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters. According to recent polling, if legalization did go before voters, it would pass. Sixty-four percent of residents in the state favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, a survey from Sacred Heart University that was released last week found.
Pushing For Cannabis Reform In A New State
A competing legalization measure from Rep. Robyn Porter (D), which is favored by many legalization advocates for its focus on social equity, was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee in March.
Lamont, who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, initially described his legalization plan as a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”
But while advocates have strongly criticized the governor’s plan as inadequate when it comes to equity provisions, Ritter said in March that “optimism abounds” as lawmakers work to merge proposals into a final legalization bill.
Rojas also said that “in principle, equity is important to both the administration and the legislature, and we’re going to work through those details.”
To that end, the majority leader said that working groups have been formed in the Democratic caucuses of the legislature to go through the governor’s proposal and the committee-approved reform bill.
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