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New Connecticut Marijuana Legalization Bill Released, With Votes Expected This Week

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Connecticut legislative leaders introduced a sweeping new marijuana legalization bill late on Saturday, a day after announcing they’d reached a deal with the governor. A vote on the 297-page measure is expected within days, ahead of a mid-week legislative deadline.

The new proposal includes significant concessions to social equity advocates, who’ve criticized the legalization plan introduced by Gov. Ned Lamont (D) earlier this year as well as details of floated proposals that emerged during the negotiations. The changes are likely to curry favor among at least some progressive Democrats in the legislature, who previously signaled they might oppose the policy change.

House Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D) and Speaker Matt Ritter (D) have been negotiating with Lamont’s office for weeks on the compromise bill. They finally said on Friday morning that they had secured a “pencils down” agreement, and on Saturday promised the bill’s language would be public by the end of the day. It posted to the state’s legislative website late in the evening as Senate Bill 1118, sponsored by Ritter and Senate President Martin Looney (D).

Lawmakers are working against the clock to pass the reform by the end-of-session deadline on June 9, with other significant pieces of legislation—most notably the state budget—still in need of approval by then. Leaders said at a press briefing Saturday they’re hoping to address those matters early in the week and take up the cannabis bill on the Senate floor before Wednesday to avoid giving opponents the opportunity to run out the clock.

“I understand that Republicans are opposed to the bill,” Rojas said. “I’m hoping that they won’t approach it in the way they’ve approached some other bills that they’re really opposed to and feel the need to filibuster something.”

“You could look at maybe Tuesday,” added Ritter when asked about the bill’s timeline. “Obviously Wednesday gets pretty risky, as the majority leader noted, because we’re out at midnight, but there are options. So we’ll have to work through it, and we will work through it.”

Watch House leaders discuss the marijuana legalization bill at around 6:15 and 11:40 into the video below:

The new bill incorporates elements of Lamont’s SB 888 as well as HB 6377, introduced by Rep. Robyn Porter (D). Its language was initially expected to be incorporated as a change to Lamont’s bill, which has already moved through two committees, but the compromise was instead introduced as standalone legislation with an emergency certification, allowing it to bypass typical committee votes so late in the legislative session.

Broadly speaking, the legislation would legalize personal possession and use of cannabis by adults 21 and older and eventually launch a regulated commercial cannabis market in Connecticut, licensing growers, retailers, manufacturers and delivery services. The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) would be in charge of licensing and regulating cannabis businesses. Rojas said he expects recreational sales would start in May 2022.

Half of all business licenses would need to be issued to social equity applicants, defined as people who have lived in geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and who make no more than three times the state’s median income. Those applicants could also qualify for technical assistance, workforce training and funding to cover startup costs. Much of the revenue from the new commercial market would be reinvested back into communities hit hardest by the drug war.

For those who don’t want to buy cannabis commercially, home cultivation would also be allowed under the bill—first for medical patients, then eventually for all adults 21 and older.

The legislative changes have focused on “strengthening our attempts to ensure that this new marketplace is really open to as broad a spectrum of individuals who want to enter that marketplace,” Rojas said on Friday, [rather] than “just having large corporate or over-capitalized interests dominating the market.”

Here are some of the key provisions of the new cannabis compromise legislation:

  • Legalization of cannabis possession and use would happen almost immediately. As of July 1 of this year, adults 21 and older could possess 1.5 ounces of cannabis or an equivalent amount of cannabis concentrates, and they could keep up to five ounces in their private residence or a vehicle’s trunk or locked glove box.
  • Homegrow would be allowed. Medical marijuana patients 18 and older could cultivate up to three mature plants and three immature plants beginning October 1, 2021, while adults 21 and older would have to wait until July 1, 2023. (Until then, first offenses for low-level home cultivation would be decriminalized.) No more than 12 plants per household would be allowed.
  • Adults 21 and older could gift legal possession amounts of marijuana to other adults.
  • Criminal convictions for possession of less than four ounces of cannabis would be automatically expunged beginning in 2023. Expungement would apply to possession convictions from January 1, 2000 through September 15, 2015.
  • Beginning July 1, 2022, individuals could petition to have other cannabis convictions erased, such as for possession of marijuana paraphernalia or the sale of small amounts of cannabis.
  • The smell of cannabis alone would no longer be a legal basis for law enforcement to stop and search individuals, nor would suspected possession of up to five ounces of marijuana.
  • Absent federal restrictions, employers would not be able to take adverse actions against workers merely for testing positive for cannabis metabolites.
  • Rental tenants, students at institutions of higher learning, and professionals in licensed occupations would be protected from certain types of discrimination around legal cannabis use. People who test positive for cannabis metabolites, which suggest past use, could not be denied organ transplants or other medical care, educational opportunities or have action taken against them by the Department of Children and Families without another evidence-based reason for the action.
  • Cannabis-related advertising could not target people under 21, and businesses that allow minors on their premises would be penalized. Licensees who sell to minors would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. People in charge of households or private properties who allow minors to possess cannabis there would also face a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Adults 18 to 20 years old who are caught with small amounts cannabis would be subject to a $50 civil fine, although subsequent violations could carry a $150 fine and mandatory community service. All possession offenses would require individuals to sign a statement acknowledging the health risks of cannabis to young people.
  • Minors under 18 could not be arrested for cannabis possession. A first offense would carry a written warning and possible referral to youth services, while a third or subsequent offense, or possession of more than five ounces of marijuana, would send the individual to juvenile court.
  • Local governments could prohibit cannabis businesses or ban cannabis delivery within their jurisdictions. Municipalities could also set reasonable limits on the number of licensed businesses, their locations, operating hours and signage.
  • Until June 30, 2024, the number of licensed cannabis retailers could not exceed one per 25,000 residents. After that, state regulators will set a new maximum.
  • Cannabis products would be capped at 30 percent THC by weight for cannabis flower and all other products except pre-filled vape cartridges at 60 percent THC, though those limits could be further adjusted by regulators. Retailers would also need to provide access to low-THC and high-CBD products. Products designed to appeal to children would be forbidden.
  • The state’s general sales tax of 6.35 percent would apply to cannabis, and an additional excise tax based on THC content would be imposed. The bill also authorizes a 3 percent municipal tax, which must be used for community reinvestment.
  • Until June 30, 2023, all excise tax would flow to the state’s general fund. For three years after that, 60 percent of the tax revenue will go to a new Social Equity and Innovation Fund. That amount would increase to 65 percent in 2026 and 75 percent in 2028. Other revenue would go to the state’s general fund as well as prevention and recovery services around drug use disorders.
  • Existing medical marijuana dispensaries could become “hybrid retailers” to also serve adult-use consumers. Regulators would begin accepting applications for hybrid permits in September 2021, and applicants would need to submit a conversion plan and pay a $1 million fee. That fee could be cut in half if they create a so-called equity joint venture, which would need to be majority owned by a social equity applicant. Medical marijuana growers could also begin cultivating adult-use cannabis in the second half this year, though they would need to pay a fee of up to $3 million.
  • Licensing fees for social equity applicants would be 50 percent of open licensing fees. Applicants would need to pay a small fee to enter a lottery, then a larger fee if they’re granted a license. Social equity licensees would also receive a 50 percent discount on license fees for the first three years of renewals.
  • The state would be allowed to enter into cannabis-related agreements with tribal governments, such as the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians.

A detailed summary of the measure was published by the advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) on Sunday afternoon.

Contrary to some earlier reports, the bill does not contain provisions that would require social equity applicants to pay a $3 million licensing fee and partner with larger, existing medical marijuana companies.

Legalization advocates broadly welcomed the new proposal.

“We’re excited by the recently revised legalization bill that was released yesterday,” DeVaughn Ward, a Connecticut attorney and senior legislative counsel for MPP, told Marijuana Moment on Sunday. “Although we believe some of the social equity licensing could be better tailored, this bill is a vast improvement over where we started in January and heads and tails better than the status quo.”

“With the addition of home grow for adults by 2023, the dedication of 50 percent of the licenses, and upwards of 60 percent of the excise tax revenue being put towards equity efforts,” Ward continued, “the bill looks poised to gain passage in both chambers.”

Jason Ortiz, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and a member of a legalization working group assembled by Lamont that issued recommendations on social equity late last year, said the changes are likely to help win some progressive votes although further reforms may be necessary.

“This bill is a huge step forward and has some truly nation-leading progressive policies. The only thing this bill is missing is the inclusion of our formerly incarcerated into the economic opportunities we’re giving millionaires,” he said. “If we can get agreement on including them in the equity qualifier, I think the progressives will be able to get on board. Without it it’s 50/50.”

The Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition, which advocates for regulations designed to build an equitable cannabis industry, described the bill as a good faith effort at incorporating inclusive policies but said the bill’s licensing provisions would still allow large businesses to begin operation before equity-owned companies.

“We urge Connecticut legislators to listen to people who have been directly harmed by the drug war arrests, incarceration, and collateral consequences and, crucially, to develop a sequence that puts them first,” the group told Marijuana Moment in an email. “Lessons from other states demonstrate that the timing of when a program becomes available for the people most harmed by the drug war is a critical factor in whether such a program achieves its goals. The funding, technical assistance, and other laudable elements in SB 1118 should be made available as early as possible and before the market commences.”

House leaders said they presented draft language of the bill to chamber colleagues and felt it was well received.

“We were able to make a couple of more adjustments that reflect, I think, the preferences of as many people in our caucus as possible to get us to the votes that we need to pass it,” Rojas said at Saturday’s briefing.

Prior to the compromise bill, progressive Democrats had signaled that they feel legislative leaders and the governor were moving too quickly and sidestepping important social equity considerations. Rep. Anne Hughes (D), cochair of the Progressive Caucus, told Marijuana Moment last week that “we want to do it right”—and that may mean tackling the reform in a special session, an option opposed by leadership and the governor.

On Saturday, Ritter downplayed the likelihood of calling for lawmakers to return to a special legislative session to tackle the, although he acknowledged it was a possibility. “We’d obviously keep that open if need be,” he said.

“We wouldn’t be the only state that needed to do it in a special session given the complexity of this policy issue,” added Rojas. “New Mexico went the same route. It worked hard during the regular session, felt the need to just pause to make sure they got it right and did a special session. But I think, you know, again, my mind is not there right now.”

Meanwhile, the governor said recently that he and legislative leaders are having “good, strong negotiations,” and there’s “broad agreement” on policies concerning public health and safety. There’s “growing agreement” with respect to using marijuana tax revenue to reinvest in communities disproportionately harmed by prohibition.

If a legalization measure isn’t enacted this year, Lamont said last month that the issue could ultimately go before voters.

“Marijuana is sort of interesting to me. When it goes to a vote of the people through some sort of a referendum, it passes overwhelmingly. When it goes through a legislature and a lot of telephone calls are made, it’s slim or doesn’t pass,” the governor said. “We’re trying to do it through the legislature. Folks are elected to make a decision, and we’ll see where it goes. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up in a referendum.”

Ritter said late last month that he feels there’s a 57-43 chance that the legislation is approved, whereas he previously gave it a 50-50 chance.

He last year that if the legislature isn’t able to pass a legalization bill, he will move to put a question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.

According to recent polling, if legalization did go before voters, it would pass.

Sixty-four percent of residents in the state favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, according to a survey from Sacred Heart University that was released last week.

The competing legalization measure from Rep. Robyn Porter (D), which is favored by many legalization advocates for its focus on social equity, was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee in March.

Lamont, who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, initially described his legalization plan as a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”

But while advocates have strongly criticized the governor’s plan as inadequate when it comes to equity provisions, Ritter said in March that “optimism abounds” as lawmakers work to merge proposals into a final legalization bill.

Rojas also said that “in principle, equity is important to both the administration and the legislature, and we’re going to work through those details.”

To that end, the majority leader said that working groups have been formed in the Democratic caucuses of the legislature to go through the governor’s proposal and the committee-approved reform bill.

In February, a Lamont administration official stressed during a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee that Lamont’s proposal it is “not a final bill,” and they want activists “at the table” to further inform the legislation.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. Those bills stalled, however.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address in January, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

The governor has compared the need for regional coordination on marijuana policy to the coronavirus response, stating that 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.”

He also said that legalization in Connecticut could potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting out-of-state trips to purchase legal cannabis in neighboring states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Civil Rights Groups Demand Congress Pass Federal Marijuana Legalization Bill This Month

Kyle Jaeger contributed reporting.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor. He has covered cannabis as a journalist since 2011, most recently as a senior news editor for Leafly.

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Wyoming Activists File 2022 Marijuana Decriminalization And Medical Cannabis Ballot Measures

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Wyoming lawmakers failed to pass a bill to legalize marijuana this session. But on Friday, two measures were submitted to the state to place medical cannabis legalization and adult-use decriminalization measures before voters on the 2022 ballot.

The Libertarian Party and state Rep. Marshall Burt (L) joined with activists to file the proposed initiatives with the secretary of state’s office.

The text of the medical cannabis proposal states that patients could purchase and possess up to four ounces of flower and 20 grams of “medical marijuana-derived products” in a 30-day period.

People with one of more than a dozen qualifying conditions—including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and dementia—would also be able to cultivate up to eight mature plants for personal use.

Under the medical cannabis initiative, the Department of Revenue’s Liquor Division would be responsible for licensing marijuana businesses. The division would be required to promulgate rules by July 1, 2023.

The division “shall regulate the acquisition, growth, cultivation, extraction, production, processing, manufacturing, testing, distribution, retail sales, licensing, transportation and taxation of medical marijuana and medical marijuana-derived products and the operation of medical marijuana establishments in a manor that will not prove excessively burdensome for Patients to access medical marijuana or medical marijuana-derived products nor burdensome for licensed healthcare providers to certify their Patients,” the text of the measure states.

Meanwhile, activists’ separate decriminalization measure would impose small fines on people possessing up to four ounces of marijuana, without the threat of jail time. A first and second offense would be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine, while a third and any subsequent offense would penalized by a $75 fine.

Cultivating marijuana would also be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a $200 fine.

An error in the drafting of the decriminalization initiative appears that it would result in the inadvertent removal of jail time for cultivating opium and peyote as well, but a spokesperson with the Libertarian Party told Marijuana Moment that the section will be changed as part of the state’s revision and formatting period for submitting measures over the next couple of weeks.

“Having the freedom to choose cannabis, whether for medical use or personal use, is one of the hallmarks of the Libertarian Party,” the organization said in a new site dedicated to the campaign. “We believe that individuals know best when it comes to what treatments to pursue and what medicine and products to consume. When people are empowered to make decisions for themselves and are not restricted by government prohibition, they are happier and healthier.”

A bill to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use in Wyoming advanced out of a House committee in March, but it did not move further in the legislature by the end of the session.

For the more modest medical cannabis and decriminalization proposals, petitioners will have until February 14 to collect 41,775 valid signatures from registered voters to make the ballot after the state approves the formatting of the measures.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,100 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

A poll released in December found that 54 percent of state residents support allowing “adults in Wyoming to legally possess marijuana for personal use.” Presumably, that would mean that the more moderate proposals stand to pass if they’re certified for the ballot.

Wyoming’s neighbors Montana and South Dakota were among several states that approved marijuana legalization ballot measures in November.

Former U.S. Senator and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who now resides in Wyoming and identifies as a Libertarian, is not yet directly involved in this latest marijuana ballot push, despite having testified in support of the legalization bill that advanced in the state this year.

Laryssa Gaughen, communications director for the Libertarian National Committee, told Marijuana Moment on Thursday that he is “generally supportive of our effort,” however.

Meanwhile, the House legalization legislation, which was backed by the Republican chair of the Judiciary Committee, would have allowed adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to three ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to 12 mature plants for personal use.

The measure was also cosponsored by the House speaker and other top GOP lawmakers.

Read the Wyoming marijuana reform initiatives being backed by the Libertarian Party below:

Wyoming Marijuana Initiatives by Marijuana Moment

Texas And Louisiana Governors Signal They’ll Sign Marijuana Reform Bills On Their Desks

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Connecticut Governor Tells Lawmakers To Pass Marijuana Legalization Bill In Special Session Next Week

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The governor of Connecticut on Thursday said he’ll be upset if the legislature fails to deliver him a bill to legalize marijuana in a special session that is set to take place next week.

“I will be,” Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said in response to a report’s question about whether he’ll be disappointed if the cannabis legislation doesn’t reach his desk. “Pass the bill. Let’s go. Vote on it and pass it.”

The Senate approved a legalization proposal in the final days of the regular session this week, but an expected House vote was called off as time ran short in the face of Republican opposition and threats to filibuster.

“We got to the most comprehensive bill in the country four months ago—a couple hundred pages,” the governor said at a briefing with reporters, referring to an initial measure he filed in January. “We know how to do this on a safe, regulated basis for adults. We know how to de-commercialize it, which is so important, and I think it’s time to vote. If you can’t vote this week, vote early next week, but vote.”

Lawmakers will reconvene for the special session on Wednesday morning.

Watch the governor discuss the legalization proposal, around 12:30 and 19:00 into the video below: 

 

The legalization proposal narrowly passed the Senate on Tuesday, but House lawmakers declined to take it up ahead of the end of the regular session.

Democratic leaders have insisted they have the votes to push through the nearly 300-page cannabis bill introduced over the weekend, but Republicans have broadly opposed it. Many expected a drawn-out debate Wednesday night, with GOP representatives trying to run out the clock to prevent a vote.

“I have a strong point of view to do whatever it takes to get this over the finish line,” Lamont said. “Around the country, we have red states and blue states that are passing this and doing it on a very careful, regulated way—and I think we’re ready to do the same.”

The bill that passed the Senate, S.B. 1118, is the product of weeks of negotiations between legislative leaders and Lamont’s office. It incorporates elements of the governor’s own proposal, SB 888, as well as an equity-focused legalization bill, HB 6377, from Rep. Robyn Porter (D).

As passed by the Senate, the legislation would legalize personal possession and use of cannabis by adults 21 and older and eventually launch a regulated commercial cannabis market in Connecticut, licensing growers, retailers, manufacturers and delivery services. The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) would be in charge of licensing and regulating cannabis businesses, with legal sales expected to begin in mid-2022.

Half of all business licenses would need to be issued to social equity applicants, defined as people who have lived in geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and who make no more than three times the state’s median income. Those applicants could also qualify for technical assistance, workforce training and funding to cover startup costs. Much of the revenue from the new commercial market would be reinvested back into communities hit hardest by the drug war.

For those who don’t want to buy cannabis commercially, home cultivation would also be allowed under the bill—first for medical patients, then eventually for all adults 21 and older.

Here are some key details about the Senate-approved legislation:

  • It would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis starting on July 1, and it would establish a retail market, with Rojas anticipating sales to launch in May 2022.
  • Regulators with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) would be responsible for issuing licenses for growers, retailers, manufacturers and delivery services.
  • Social equity applicants—defined as people who have lived in geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and who make no more than three times the state’s median income—would be entitled to half of those licenses.
  • A significant amount of tax revenue from cannabis sales would go toward community reinvestment.
  • Home cultivation would be permitted—first to medical marijuana patients and then later to adult-use consumers.
  • Criminal convictions for possession of less than four ounces of cannabis would be automatically expunged beginning in 2023. Expungement would apply to possession convictions from January 1, 2000 through September 15, 2015.
  • Beginning July 1, 2022, individuals could petition to have other cannabis convictions erased, such as for possession of marijuana paraphernalia or the sale of small amounts of cannabis.
  • The smell of cannabis alone would no longer be a legal basis for law enforcement to stop and search individuals, nor would suspected possession of up to five ounces of marijuana.
  • Absent federal restrictions, employers would not be able to take adverse actions against workers merely for testing positive for cannabis metabolites.
  • Rental tenants, students at institutions of higher learning, and professionals in licensed occupations would be protected from certain types of discrimination around legal cannabis use. People who test positive for cannabis metabolites, which suggest past use, could not be denied organ transplants or other medical care, educational opportunities or have action taken against them by the Department of Children and Families without another evidence-based reason for the action.
  • Cannabis-related advertising could not target people under 21, and businesses that allow minors on their premises would be penalized. Licensees who sell to minors would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. People in charge of households or private properties who allow minors to possess cannabis there would also face a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Adults 18 to 20 years old who are caught with small amounts cannabis would be subject to a $50 civil fine, although subsequent violations could carry a $150 fine and mandatory community service. All possession offenses would require individuals to sign a statement acknowledging the health risks of cannabis to young people.
  • Minors under 18 could not be arrested for cannabis possession. A first offense would carry a written warning and possible referral to youth services, while a third or subsequent offense, or possession of more than five ounces of marijuana, would send the individual to juvenile court.
    Local governments could prohibit cannabis businesses or ban cannabis delivery within their jurisdictions. Municipalities could also set reasonable limits on the number of licensed businesses, their locations, operating hours and signage.
  • Until June 30, 2024, the number of licensed cannabis retailers could not exceed one per 25,000 residents. After that, state regulators will set a new maximum.
  • Cannabis products would be capped at 30 percent THC by weight for cannabis flower and all other products except pre-filled vape cartridges at 60 percent THC, though those limits could be further adjusted by regulators. Retailers would also need to provide access to low-THC and high-CBD products. Products designed to appeal to children would be forbidden.
  • The state’s general sales tax of 6.35 percent would apply to cannabis, and an additional excise tax based on THC content would be imposed. The bill also authorizes a 3 percent municipal tax, which must be used for community reinvestment.
  • Until June 30, 2023, all excise tax would flow to the state’s general fund. For three years after that, 60 percent of the tax revenue will go to a new Social Equity and Innovation Fund. That amount would increase to 65 percent in 2026 and 75 percent in 2028. Other revenue would go to the state’s general fund as well as prevention and recovery services around drug use disorders.
  • Existing medical marijuana dispensaries could become “hybrid retailers” to also serve adult-use consumers. Regulators would begin accepting applications for hybrid permits in September 2021, and applicants would need to submit a conversion plan and pay a $1 million fee. That fee could be cut in half if they create a so-called equity joint venture, which would need to be majority owned by a social equity applicant. Medical marijuana growers could also begin cultivating adult-use cannabis in the second half this year, though they would need to pay a fee of up to $3 million.
  • Licensing fees for social equity applicants would be 50 percent of open licensing fees. Applicants would need to pay a small fee to enter a lottery, then a larger fee if they’re granted a license. Social equity licensees would also receive a 50 percent discount on license fees for the first three years of renewals.
  • The state would be allowed to enter into cannabis-related agreements with tribal governments, such as the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians.

The Senate adopted one amendment to the bill before passing it on Tuesday that makes a number of substantial and technical changes. Among other revisions, it deletes a section that would have allowed backers of marijuana producers to obtain cultivation licenses without being subject to a lottery and clarifies that a higher percentage of equity joint-venture owners be from disproportionately impacted areas. It also expands equity provisions of the bill so that 100 percent of profits with joint ventures with existing businesses go to equity partners, rather than the 5 percent in the original bill, and exempts medical marijuana from potency limits that apply to adult-use products.

A fiscal note on bill projects that taxes and fees for marijuana would bring in an estimated $4.1 million in additional revenue for the state and municipalities in fiscal year 2022, which would grow over time to a projected annual haul of $73.4 million by fiscal year 2026.

While many of the components of the bill are expected to carry over into the special session, there will technically need to be a new legislative vehicle that must pass both chambers in order to get to the governor’s desk.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,100 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

If a legalization measure isn’t enacted this year, Lamont said last month that the issue could ultimately go before voters.

“Marijuana is sort of interesting to me. When it goes to a vote of the people through some sort of a referendum, it passes overwhelmingly. When it goes through a legislature and a lot of telephone calls are made, it’s slim or doesn’t pass,” the governor said. “We’re trying to do it through the legislature. Folks are elected to make a decision, and we’ll see where it goes. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up in a referendum.”

Ritter said late last month that he feels there’s a 57-43 chance that the legislation is approved, whereas he previously gave it a 50-50 chance.

He last year that if the legislature isn’t able to pass a legalization bill, he will move to put a question on the state’s 2022 ballot that would leave the matter to voters.

According to recent polling, if legalization did go before voters, it would pass.

Sixty-four percent of residents in the state favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, according to a survey from Sacred Heart University that was released last week.

The competing legalization measure from Rep. Robyn Porter (D), which is favored by many legalization advocates for its focus on social equity, was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee in March.

Lamont, who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, initially described his legalization plan as a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”

But while advocates have strongly criticized the governor’s plan as inadequate when it comes to equity provisions, Ritter said in March that “optimism abounds” as lawmakers work to merge proposals into a final legalization bill.

Rojas also said that “in principle, equity is important to both the administration and the legislature, and we’re going to work through those details.”

To that end, the majority leader said that working groups have been formed in the Democratic caucuses of the legislature to go through the governor’s proposal and the committee-approved reform bill.

In February, a Lamont administration official stressed during a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee that Lamont’s proposal it is “not a final bill,” and they want activists “at the table” to further inform the legislation.

The legislature has considered legalization proposals on several occasions in recent years, including a bill that Democrats introduced last year on the governor’s behalf. Those bills stalled, however.

Lamont reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana during his annual State of the State address in January, stating that he would be working with the legislature to advance the reform this session.

The governor has compared the need for regional coordination on marijuana policy to the coronavirus response, stating that 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.”

He also said that legalization in Connecticut could potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting out-of-state trips to purchase legal cannabis in neighboring states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Texas And Louisiana Governors Signal They’ll Sign Marijuana Reform Bills On Their Desks

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Texas And Louisiana Governors Signal They’ll Sign Marijuana Reform Bills On Their Desks

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The governors of Texas and Louisiana on Thursday separately indicated that they will sign marijuana reform bills that have recently been delivered to their desks.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) left no room for interpretation on how he would act on a medical cannabis expansion measure that the legislature sent him.

“Veterans could qualify for medical marijuana under new law,” he tweeted. “I will sign it.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) was less explicit, stating at a press briefing that he’s “interested in signing the bill that would lessen the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The governor noted that some reporters “may be surprised to hear” he’s inclined to approve the cannabis decriminalization measure, referring to his longtime opposition to broad legalization. That said, other recent comments Edwards has separately made signaled that he may be increasingly open to even more comprehensive proposals to completely end marijuana prohibition if they are ever sent to his desk.

When it comes to the current decriminalization measure, he said he and his staff are “reviewing that one now.”

Louisiana lawmakers also sent Edwards a separate bill last week to let patients in the state’s medical cannabis program legally smoke whole-plant marijuana flower. He didn’t weigh in on that proposal at the press conference, but he’s previously cited it as an example of the type of incremental reform he expected to advance.

In Texas, the marijuana measure that the governor says he will sign would add cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that qualify patients for medical cannabis. As passed in the House, it would have also included chronic pain as a qualifying condition, but that was removed by the Senate, and it was not re-added in a conference committee. Also, the legislation doubled the THC cap for marijuana products, increasing it from 0.5 percent to one percent. Originally the House-approved version increased the limit to five percent, but that was watered down in the Senate.

Abbott has not yet commented on a separate piece of drug policy reform legislation that the legislature also passed to require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA. But for what it’s worth, that measure is also aimed at supporting military veterans’ health.

If all the bills are signed into law, it would represent a significant victory for advocates who have been working overtime in the conservative legislatures to get lawmakers on board. But in both states, there have also been defeats this session.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,100 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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Texas bills to reduce penalties for possessing cannabis concentrates, update the state’s hemp program and broadly decriminalize marijuana advanced—but they did not make it over the finish line by the session’s end.

Partly because of those failures, a newly formed progressive coalition that’s being led by two former congressional candidates said it plans to take cannabis and other issues directly to voters by putting reform measures on local ballots across the state.

In Louisiana, there was an effort to pass a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis, but it stalled in the House after the chamber failed to pass a complementary measure on taxing recreational marijuana. Edwards did say last month that he believes the reform “is going to happen in Louisiana eventually.”

In April, Edwards also said that he had “great interest” in the legalization proposal, and he pledged to take a serious look at its various provisions.

Last year, the Louisiana legislature significantly expanded the state’s medical marijuana program by passing a bill that allows physicians to recommend cannabis to patients for any debilitating condition that they deem fit instead of from the limited list of maladies that’s used under current law.

Edwards signed the measure in June 2020 and it took effect weeks later.

Abbott, for his part, did not sign separate legislation to clarify that a positive marijuana test alone is not sufficient criteria for removing a child from their home. But he didn’t veto it, either, and it was enacted without the his signature last month and takes effect on September 1, 2021.

Prohibition remains on the books in both traditionally conservative states—but between legislative actions this session and both governors expressing some level of support for more modest reform, it can’t be said that advocates haven’t made progress.

California Uses Marijuana Tax Revenue To Fund Programs To Repair Drug War’s Harms

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Lawson.

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