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Marijuana Legalization ‘Inevitable’ In Connecticut, Incoming House Speaker Says

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A Connecticut lawmaker who will soon assume the top leadership position in the state House of Representatives said on Tuesday that marijuana legalization is “inevitable,” especially as surrounding jurisdictions move to enact the policy change.

During a briefing, House Speaker-designate Matt Ritter (D) was asked about plans to promote economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic and then specifically whether legalizing cannabis to generate tax revenue would be part of the plan.

“Look, I don’t want to get into a policy discussion. We have a caucus we have to have,” he said, referring to pending agenda-setting discussions with colleagues. “But marijuana has been a long time—I’ve said I believe it’s inevitable at some point, especially when your neighboring states are doing it.”

He added that “we don’t have revenues yet so it’s really hard to say where we’re going to be.”

Watch the speaker-designate discuss marijuana legalization, starting around 17:25 into the video below:

While Ritter stopped short of committing to a timeline to pass legalization legislation, the remarks bode well for the prospects of reform in 2021.

The incoming House leader acknowledged that neighboring states are pursuing the marijuana policy change, adding pressure to pass similar legislation. There’s been ongoing talks about the need to coordinate legalization plans regionally—and those talks have been amplified since New Jersey voters approved a legalization referendum last week.

Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said last week that legalizing marijuana in his state will bolster public health amid the COVID-19 outbreak by preventing cannabis tourism to surrounding states, for example.

He said said officials have “got to think regionally when it comes to how we deal with the pandemic—and I think we have to think regionally when it comes to marijuana as well.”

Lamont and other policymakers in the region similarly said last week that the passage of cannabis legalization in New Jersey underscores the need for their states to advance the reform in a regionally coordinated manner.

Democrats increased their majority in Connecticut’s state legislature in last week’s elections, boosting the chances that cannabis legalization can get done in 2021. The governor said the reform is “on the table” and that it could bring in needed tax revenue.

Meanwhile, the majority leader of the Senate in neighboring Rhode Island said recently that the state should join others that have recently legalized marijuana, and other top lawmakers who have in recent years been reluctant to pursue the issue seem newly open to the idea as a way to boost the economy.

Prior to the pandemic, Lamont and the governors of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania met to discuss how best to implement cannabis legalization to promote public safety. Last year, they agreed to a set of principles for regulated marijuana markets.

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Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

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