Gov. Lamont signs recreational marijuana bill
Marijuana is now officially legal in Connecticut.
After years of failed attempts, Connecticut lawmakers approved the recreational marijuana bill last week. Gov. Ned Lamont signed the bill into law Tuesday.
Connecticut now joins 18 other states and Washington, D.C. in approving recreational pot.
Now the state is tasked with implementing the 300-page legislation.
First up, lawmakers only have 30 days to pick a powerful new "Social Equity Council" to decide how to spend most of the tax money.
"I've already begun the conversation in my office about how we're going to identify the most qualified people to serve on the Equity Council," said House Majority Leader Rep. Jason Rojas.
Licensed retail sales will not be allowed until May 2022 at the earliest. Retail licenses will go out by lottery and half are reserved for "social equity applicants."
"The things that have happen under the war on drugs are that we have targeted certain communities," said State Sen. Gary Winfield.
Medical dispensaries can get into the business as well. They'll pay a steep price of $3 million, but they get a discount if they partner with equity applicants.
"This is an equity fund that's going to give folks who otherwise sometimes don't have access to capital, the capital they need to start up their own business, focused on the most distressed communities," Lamont said.
Starting July 1, residents can carry up to an once-and-a-half of marijuana, but they can't just light up anywhere as smoking is banned in the same places cigarettes are. However, larger towns have to designate a specific place where consuming cannabis is allowed.
The first time Connecticut tried to legalize marijuana was in 1973.
Meantime, Republican leaders criticized Lamont signing the law. "The passage of this bill was a calamity,” state Senate Republican leader Kevin Kelly said in a statement. “Democrats focused on the money – not on the public health and social impact.”