The governor of Connecticut announced on Sunday that the state has cleared nearly 43,000 records for marijuana-related convictions.
Gov. Ned Lamont (D) previously noted last month that legalization legislation he signed in 2021 empowered the state government to facilitate mass cannabis clemency, which it has now processed for 42,964 cases. This comes about a week before the state’s first legal adult-use marijuana sales are set to launch.
“It’s one step forward in ending the War on Drugs and giving our citizens a second chance to achieve their dreams,” Lamont said.
As of this morning, our administration has marked 42,964 cannabis convictions erased, as planned.
It’s one step forward in ending the War on Drugs and giving our citizens a second chance to achieve their dreams. https://t.co/AGJrzWzCCa
— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) January 1, 2023
The governor’s office has also pointed out that people with a wider range of minor convictions on their records will be able to petition courts for record-sealing under separate reform legislation that was enacted.
Meanwhile, a White House official cheered Lamont for the new cannabis clemency announcement, saying that it’s consistent with President Joe Biden’s move to pardon thousands of people who’ve committed federal marijuana possession offenses in October.
Powerful leadership from @GovNedLamont! Over 40k Connecticuters’ lives are starting stronger this New Year because of his actions and @POTUS actions to pardon all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana. https://t.co/fTHvuYmqKU
— Julie Rodriguez (@JulieCR46) January 2, 2023
Julie Rodriguez, director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, tweeted that the Connecticut development shows “powerful leadership” from Lamont.
“Over 40k Connecticuters’ lives are starting stronger this New Year because of his actions and @POTUS actions to pardon all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana,” she said.
Biden also issued a handful of additional pardons on Friday, including a few people with cannabis or other drug convictions on their records. Some advocates expressed disappointment about the limited scope of the latest pardons, arguing that the president should take steps to release the thousands of people still behind bars for marijuana.
In any case, when Biden granted the mass marijuana pardon, he encouraged governors across the U.S. to follow suit with state-level relief—and several have moved to facilitate clemency accordingly.
In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown (D) recently moved to grant tens of thousands of marijuana pardons, a development that the president applauded.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) came out in support of marijuana decriminalization in October, saying it’s time to “end the stigma” and announcing steps he’s taken to explore his options for independently granting relief to people with existing convictions.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D), meanwhile, signed two cannabis-related executive orders in November: one to protect patients who meet certain criteria and possess medical cannabis legally obtained from dispensaries in other states, and another to regulate the sale of delta-8 THC products. The medical cannabis move is based on the governor’s clemency powers.
Lamont, for his part, has long supported legalization and celebrated the policy change that’s being actively implemented.
Connecticut’s first adult-use cannabis shops are set to open on January 10. Regulators announced in December that six existing medical marijuana dispensaries, with a total of nine locations, met the requirements to obtain hybrid licenses that will allow them to serve adult consumers.
People will be able to buy up to a quarter of an ounce of marijuana per transaction. More retailers are expected to be approved following the January 10 launch, and the expectation is that social equity joint ventures will be the next to come online, where equity applicants partner with existing operators to start their business.
Before signing legalization into law last year, Lamont was asked if he’d partake himself when marijuana was officially legal—and he didn’t rule it out, saying “not right now, but we’ll see.”
Meanwhile, the governor also signed a large-scale budget bill in May that includes provisions to set the state up to provide certain patients with access to psychedelic-assisted treatment using substances like MDMA and psilocybin.
Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.