There I was… Staring blankly across the Red Sea-like carpet in the Court Room that is our Senate. The red sea met with the cliff sides of fine wood curtilage with high backed red skin chairs with etched state seals meant for legal combatants. The arena was finely polished and glistened in the light with our Connecticut and American flags hanging in the background. This arena is where the final debate and vote for SB1201, the legalization of Cannabis in the state of Connecticut will go down. It already has the governor’s backing, he’s going to sign it into law if it can get through the final round of voting in The House. It has already gone into a special session and the heat is on. For some, this is an edge of your seat thriller. So, what are we looking at?
The short of the long on this bill starts with it being legal for people 21 years and older to possess and use cannabis beginning July 1. An individual would be allowed to have up to 1.5 ounces, with an additional five ounces secured in their home or vehicle. Anything being homegrown at the time will not be counted toward that amount. The retail sale of cannabis is expected to begin in May of 2022. The legislation would make it legal for medical marijuana patients in the state to have three mature and three immature plants, with a limit of 12 plants per household beginning 10/01/2021. Any adult in Connecticut would be allowed to have the same amount of plants as of 07/01/2023. In addition the state will be generating a lot of revenue through taxes.
Lawmakers said Connecticut’s taxes would be lower than New York’s and around the same as Massachusetts’ rates. Besides the 6.35% state sales tax, the state will generate new revenue based on the potency levels of THC in the different products. Municipalities would receive new revenue generated by a 3% local sales tax on gross receipts based on retail cannabis sales within their borders. In addition, licensing will begin at $3 million. Big money is coming into the state for sure. It was estimated $1.1 billion will be earned in tax revenue within the first 7 years.
The special session began Tuesday June 15th at 3:40 pm. They started in debate concerning the bill. Obvious concerns were raised such as safety, child access and policing involving analysis of impaired drivers. Big business and bail outs were a concern as well recognizing the current stresses facing the California Cannabis Industry. Dan Champagne stressed concerns about those with past convictions getting a “leg up” and was against the amendment. Now the heat was on.
The debates on legalization and potential violations that could come under certain situations raged into the following day, facing continued opposition and much lengthier dialogue. Stats of addiction and abuse were tabled along with additional fear of exposure to children. Potency caps and dosing concerns came across the dialogue of concern. Legal consequences for underage usage and zero tolerance came to call, while stresses of motor vehicle infractions and limitations of law enforcement made for heated deliberation. “We don’t want it on every street corner.” could be heard even though the bull’s provisions allow sale sites based on population. 1 per every 25,000.
Doug just wanted to free the weed…
It was looking bad and then a new amendment comes to the table by Doug Dubitsky. He just wanted to free the weed. The amendment eliminates all state prohibition laws and removed it from the hands of the bureaucracy that controls the existing market within the state of Connecticut. Reps one by one they started to come to the table in support of this amendment recognizing that prohibition has been a complete failure. This would also allow for a free market. That amendment was killed 114-21.
Then came more health concerns… Pregnancy, high consumption users, respiratory complications, fine motor problems, and more focus on dependency. Dependency arguments revolved around potency levels and possible issues with those who have genetic predisposition to certain ailments.
Addiction=Revenue=Profits was stated by Tom O’Dea in concern of the legislation.
Amendments, arguments, and concerns, continued on. Opposition and agreements flowed like water down an angry river. Rushed Legislation claims were stated with a feeling of disservice to the public. The tension of regulated vs unregulated was teeth grindingly present while a need for home-grow was vocalized for a patients need for consistency; consistency just isn’t there within the current program.
In the end the bill passed 76-62. Watching the votes go up was a real nail biter.
Now that the bill made it through the house it was off to the senate. More resistance was there to meet the bill in the 3rd round. Interestingly enough, it was again mentioned that this is being rushed. Is it? It’s literally been around since 2727 BC when is was first documented as a medicine in China. This subject is older than Jesus and the state has been talking about it for the last 10 years. How much more time does the leadership need? Since we’re on the subject, it needs to stop being said that more research needs to be done on Cannabis. Most research is stopped due to politics.
Then the votes were cast. The bill passed 16-11. Now the bill is 3-0. Off to the governor for signing… Behold, the first steps in ending prohibition. We laughed, we cried, we high fived…. Now light up, relax and enjoy… But wait there’s more. No throwing confetti yet. It still might get vetoed.
Even though the governor went into this with a just pass it and I’ll sign it attitude, he has threatened to veto the bill due to non clarification of the equity portion of the bill. The office Gov. Ned Lamont claims that the bill doesn’t address the historical trauma of the war on drugs or ensuring equity in the state’s recreational market. Paul Mounds, Lamont’s chief of staff said on June 15 in regards to the bill “does not meet the goals laid out during negotiations when it comes to equity and ensuring the wrongs of the past are righted. He continued “To the contrary, this proposal opens the floodgates for tens of thousands of previously ineligible applicants to enter the adult-use cannabis industry.” However, the proper adjustments have already supposedly been made. So it should go through…
House lawmakers approved the bill with a 76 to 62 vote today. Senate approved the bill by a vote of 19 to 12 Tuesday. So, really at this point it can still go either way. So, hold onto your seats. The show hasn’t stopped. The ride isn’t over yet… This could all go south or straight to the moon.
In the 11th hour of publishing this article a statement was released by the governors office stating he is support of the bill and looks forward to signing. TOKES!!!! History in the making. What a roller coaster…