Lamont's marijuana plan clears hurdle in committee vote, but more changes likely
Gov. Ned Lamont's plan to
legalize marijuana advanced Tuesday in a tight Judiciary Committee vote, 22-16, but only after some big
changes and pushback from his own party.
The governor's plan is
getting hit from both sides. Republicans say it goes too far and some Democrats
say it doesn't go far enough.
Gov. Lamont's plan would
legalize sales by next summer, but critics say it’s too limited. A new version
allows home growing of up to six plants, but only for medical marijuana
patients. Also, to protect small businesses, only "equity applicants"
would be able to sell pot until 2024.
That includes those
convicted of marijuana charges in the past. Their records could also be wiped
"So somebody got arrested for breaking the law. We're going to say, 'You know what? What we're going to do is, we know you violated the law, but we're going to reward you,'" said state Sen. Dan Champagne (R-Vernon).
Backers say the bill is likely to undergo even
more changes before the full General Assembly votes on it.
"I stand firmly in support of the effort to end prohibition of cannabis to right some of those historical wrongs," said state Rep. Steve Stafstrom (D- Bridgeport).
New York just legalized
marijuana. It's already legal in Massachusetts. Many say that puts Connecticut
on the clock.
"Right now, too many
Connecticut residents, too many of our constituents purchase cannabis on an
illicit and on an illegal market. And when they do so, they're consuming an
unregulated substance," says state Sen. Will Haskell (D-Westport).
Tuesday’s vote was just the first of many hurdles for pot legalization. The
bill heads to the Finance Committee next for a vote on April 22.
Under the revised proposal, cannabis workers
could join unions — something critics pushed hard for. Union leaders say they’re happy the plan advanced, but it’s
still needs work:
“We applaud the Judiciary Committee for recognizing that the
best way to create good jobs in this new industry is to make labor peace
agreements a condition of licensure,” said Connecticut AFL-CIO president Sal
Luciano. “And we urge the legislature to add language to the final
bill that would require the construction or renovation of cultivation and
rental facilities to include prevailing wage standards and project labor
agreements. The labor movement wants all the jobs in this industry – from
construction and renovation to cannabis processing and retail – to be good jobs
in our state. Connecticut cannot afford another low-wage industry.”
Also issuing a statement was the Connecticut State Medical Society, saying they oppose pot
“Physicians base our opinions on science, data
from peer-reviewed writings, observation and patient interaction, which is why
we believe Connecticut should not sacrifice the health and well-being of our
youth for the unproven promise of increased revenues brought about by legalization
of recreational marijuana,” said CSMS president Dr. Gregory Shangold.