A win for cannabis through legalization in one state is a win for all other states, and the Connecticut senate just delivered some excellent news! If you have been following the cannabis legalization process in America, you will agree that the road to legalization differs from state to state.
However, it all makes sense and becomes a call for celebration when the state finally legalizes it. Connecticut joins many other states already in the legalized cannabis train, which happened most dramatically.
How the Connecticut Senate voted
The Connecticut Senate passed the bill to legalize cannabis a few days before their session ended. The proposal was sent to the house for final approval within that short timeframe, and the house leaders were keen on taking up the legislation in its chambers before the end-of-session deadline on Wednesday.
This bill to legalize cannabis has been in the senate-house for weeks, with intense negotiations between Governor Lamont’s office and the Connecticut legislative leaders. On Saturday before the week, it was legalized, the finalized language was introduced, which gave lawmakers little time to review the proposal.
However, during the floor debate, which was extended into the early hours of Tuesday morning, the bill was passed in a 19-17 vote. Sen. Gary Winfield argued that the “War on Drugs” has affected several communities in the state. He also maintained that contrary to public opinion, not many people are in the state jail for possessing cannabis. He believes that this legalization status in Connecticut will end the adverse consequences of the war on cannabis which is felt in the state today.
The positive implications of the legalization process for minority communities in Connecticut
History has always shown how unkind marijuana legislation has been to minority communities like blacks and South Americans. In most states, such minority communities are often targeted and arrested for possessing marijuana which became a negative label for these communities.
The debate on the floor of the Connecticut senate on legalizing cannabis reflected on this history and what it will mean for the future of cannabis and the legal access it gives minority communities.
Senators Moore, Miller, and McCory are all black and Puerto Rican Caucus members in the house. They emphasized the importance of social equity provisions that will place a higher percentage of cannabis revenue into the minority cities affected by the war on drugs and drug law era.
Therefore, as reinforced by the Senate President, the legislation is “88 years overdue,” which tallies with the timeline for the prohibition of alcohol in 1933. Senate President Gary Winfield agreed that marijuana usage was tinged with prejudice against minority groups.
So, in the past, it was customary for people to view cannabis disparagingly by associating it with people of black and Mexican heritage. With whole communities decimated in the past, this new legislation legalizing cannabis seeks to shape a better cannabis narrative in Connecticut now and in the future.
Key details of the bill legalizing cannabis in Connecticut
The legislation stipulates that individuals at age 21 or above are allowed to purchase and possess marijuana.
Quantity of marijuana
The bill also legalizes the possession of up to 1.5 ounces and additional 5 ounces in a home or a locked vehicle starting January 2022.
The retail sale of legalized marijuana is expected to begin in May 2022, with an allowance for homegrown marijuana for those who have a medical marijuana card from October 1, 2022. Others without a medical card but who want to use marijuana for recreational purposes will gain access by 2023.
The bill also erases some drug convictions and sets up a petition process to erase others. The criminal convictions for possession of fewer than four ounces of cannabis will automatically be canceled from 2023. Convictions from January 1, 2000, to September 15, 2015, will also be expunged.
Individuals can also send petitions to have other cannabis convictions erased from July 1, 2022. The petitions should be for the possession of small amounts of cannabis or marijuana paraphernalia.
For licenses, half of it for growers and retailers will be reserved for social equity applicants, defined as a business with at least 65% ownership by an individual with limited income. The company should also be in an area that has been disproportionately impacted by drug enforcement.
Before licenses are given, the businesses will have their proposals reviewed by a 15-person equity council. The council will set the rules for equity applicants, review their application and decide on either giving them the license or not.
The state of Connecticut will create two lotteries for licenses. The first lottery will be only for social equity applicants, and permits will cost up to $ 3 million. For the same $ 3 million, a medical marijuana producer can also become a recreational supplier.
To enter the license lottery for production, an applicant will pay $ 1,000; winners will have to pay $ 3 million for the license. Licenses can also be unionized, and it was tagged the “Labor peace agreement.”
All existing medical marijuana dispensaries will now become hybrid retailers that serve adult-use consumers. Regulators will accept applications for hybrid permits in September 2021.
Connecticut may derive $ 80 million in revenue from the legalization of cannabis which is a quantum leap for its financial health. This is a bold step that secures the future of cannabis in the state hence the reason it was tagged a ‘Historic day for a new cannabis industry in Connecticut.”
The legislation has created a robust and inclusive process that will enable cannabis enthusiasts and users in the state to gain access to marijuana without prejudice quickly. There is better equity in the marijuana market in the state, with labor unions, small businesses, and individuals benefiting from this legalization. It is a giant leap forward towards a more sustainable drug policy in Connecticut on a broader level.
American states are leading the charge with the legalization of marijuana, and if the trend continues, more people will reap the benefits of cannabis on a medical and recreational level.