With just the House’s vote to go, recreational cannabis could become legal in Connecticut in the next 24 hours or so. The legislation cleared the Senate early Tuesday and would allow those 21 and older to possess and use cannabis starting July 1. The state could start allow the sale of recreational cannabis as early as next year
“As somebody that was actually arrested when I was a young person this is a historic day,” Jason Ortiz, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy said.
The historic legislation would allow recreational marijuana in Connecticut for the first time, Ortiz says it’s even more about changing the foundation of criminal justice.
“You’re almost four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana if you’re black or brown than if you’re white,” Ken Barone, with the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University said.
Barone says there’s no evidence to support the claim that Black and brown individuals are more likely to use drugs.
“What you see is a very clear disparity in the way that marijuana laws have been applied in some communities over others,” Barone said.
“We are anticipating dozens and hundreds of applicants,” Arunan Arulampalam, Deputy Commissioner for the Dept. of Consumer Protection said.
Arulampalam says if passed, a social equity council will then help guide his office on ensuring equitable licensing.
“Half of all the new applicants in every license type and 100% of all new cultivators are going to be social equity applicants,” Arulampalam said.
“I’m very concerned about the impact to our youth, Senator Christine Cohen, D-Guilford said.
Cohen voted against the bill Tuesday morning. While she supports decriminalizing marijuana and the equity components of the legislation, she says the state needs to make sure appropriate dollars will be spent for mental health addiction services for youth.
“We know that their frontal cortex is not fully developed until you’re 26 years old, what does that mean does that mean perhaps it’s more addictive,” Cohen said.