House Passes Adult-Use CannabisJune 16, 2021
Today, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 1201, which legalizes and regulates cannabis for adult use. The legislation passed with my support 76-62.
This is a significant victory for Connecticut. This landmark legislation embraces a new source of revenue that will grow the economy, establish substantial safeguards for the public, maintain a municipality's voice in deciding what kind of presence cannabis will have in their communities, help curb the dangerous, unregulated market, and provide justice for those who have been harmed by this country’s failed war on drugs.
The bill would legalize the use and possession of recreational cannabis for people 21+ beginning July 1, 2021. No more than 1.5 ounces of cannabis on a person and as much as 5 ounces in-home or locked in a car trunk or glove box. Retail sales are expected to begin around summer 2022. Any individual 21+ will be permitted to grow up to six cannabis plants (three mature, three immature) in their home beginning July 1, 2023.
Over the past three years, I have pushed and negotiated for this measure, and I am proud to have worked with my colleagues and advocates in getting this historic legislation across the finish line in the House. Connecticut cannot exist as an island surrounded by states where cannabis is already legal. It's only a short drive to acquire legal cannabis. Today’s passage is the launch of a strict, well-regulated policy for the adult-use of cannabis. Just like our alcohol laws – there will be adjustments and tweaks every year.
The bill aims to right the wrongs of our past and help those most disproportionately and illegitimately harmed by the "war on drugs". Specifically, the bill erases convictions related to possession of less than 4 oz. of marijuana, for offenses occurring between 2015 – 2021 and erases convictions related to possession of any amount of marijuana for offenses occurring between 2000-2015.
Change never comes easily and rarely does it occur as quickly as we might like. But with this major step forward, we can ensure revenue and policies in this bill are dedicated to righting wrongs through funding, criminal justice reforms, and economic opportunities.
The bill also establishes a multi-level system to train police officers to recognize impaired driving and keep roads safe. All officers will be trained to the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement level, and enough will be trained to the Drug Recognition Expert level to recognize impairment.
The message for those adults who choose to use marijuana is clear - public use is still a no-go and driving impaired is driving impaired. I urge the Senate to immediately reconvene to bring this bill for a vote.