The “Governor’s Bill”, a marijuana legalization bill, was introduced by Connecticut’s top lawmakers on February 6, just one day after Gov. Ted Lemont renewed his call for marijuana legalization during his State of the State address.
The bill, filed by Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, would allow adults 21 years and older to possess and purchase up to one and a half ounces of marijuana from a licensed retailer.
With the introduction of this bill, Connecticut joins other Northeastern states including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in resuming legalization efforts. The four state governors met in October 2019 to discuss building cohesive cannabis policies for the region and have now begun their renewed efforts to legalize in their respective states.
Last year, marijuana legalization in the Northeast looked promising. It had already passed in Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine and was a top priority for governors in four more, including Connecticut.
However, Connecticut’s legislature has continuously refused to vote on the issue in recent years. While the chances of a possible vote seemed better in the last legislative session, it was declined once again.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz has clarified that the issue isn’t legalization itself, saying that if the question was simply to legalize recreational marijuana, it would pass — the disagreement among lawmakers lies mostly in revenue allocation.
Now, Gov. Lamont and top legislative leaders are working to resolve these issues and have made it clear that they aim to strengthen their push for legalization in 2020.
“We are revisiting legalizing recreational cannabis because we see that most of our neighboring states have already done it or want to do it this year,” Looney said. “We had three very detailed bills on this last year, so I think we’re well prepared to do that when the time comes.”
The bill outlines a three percent tax that would be implemented on retail marijuana sales, and retailers and manufactures would be taxed $1.25 per dry weight gram of cannabis flower. A portion of the tax revenue collected would go toward communities disproportionately affected by prohibition.
New marijuana businesses such as cultivators (to grow marijuana), product manufacturers (to process marijuana into other products), testing laboratories (to test the safety of marijuana products), and retailers (to sell marijuana to adult consumers) would need to become licensed by the state to service the recreational market.
The Cannabis Control Commission, the regulating department that will be established once the bill is passed, will later determine the number of marijuana business licenses and establish a nonrefundable application fee, license fee and renewal fee for each marijuana business.
Individual municipalities would be able to prohibit marijuana dispensaries within their jurisdiction or establish reasonable limitations regarding the hours of operation and signage. However, they would not be permitted from barring delivery services from operating within their borders.
Additionally, there are numerous social equity provisions listed in the legislation that outline opportunities for individuals with prior marijuana convictions including record expungement and encouraging business participation in the industry from social equity applicants.
Regulators would be responsible for making recommendations on issues including, personal use cultivation, on-site consumption and providing licenses for social consumption facilities.
While there undoubtedly is work that still needs to be done, the bill reflects the effort that has been poured into the issue for months in an attempt to create a marijuana program that encourages public health, social equity and the safety of Connecticut residents.
Interested in preparing for marijuana business opportunities in Connecticut? If recreational marijuana is legalized in 2020, the state will need to hold an application process to license recreational marijuana businesses.
To begin preparing, download our Marijuana Business Application Guide and Checklist to learn all that will be involved in the application process. The roughly 50-page guide is designed to provide a detailed summary and checklist of all the action items you will need to complete prior to the submission of application — including financial planning, inventory control, real estate selection, team building activities, local lobbying and community efforts.