Today, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed Senate Bill 1201—a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and over—into law. The legislation, sponsored by Senate President Martin Looney and House Speaker Matt Ritter, received final approval from both chambers of Connecticut’s legislature in a special session last week.
With the governor’s signature, Connecticut is now the 19th state to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over, the sixth state to legalize via its state legislature, and the fourth state to adopt a legalization policy this year alone, joining New Mexico, New York, and Virginia.
“State lawmakers are to be commended for enacting model legislation that will move Connecticut forward,” said NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano, a Connecticut native. “This legislation recognizes that the responsible use of marijuana by adults should not be a crime, and that those who carry the stigma of a criminal record for their past use of cannabis should receive relief. Regulating cannabis, rather than criminalizing it, has proven to be a superior public policy — which is why more and more states are rapidly moving in this direction.”
Along with NORML, The Marijuana Policy Project played a leading role in the fight to reform Connecticut’s cannabis laws.
“We commend the Connecticut Legislature and governor for their commitment to getting this important, equity-centered legalization bill over the finish line,” said Steven Hawkins, executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Connecticut has recognized that cannabis legalization is a civil rights issue and crafted a legalization law that aims to redress the unequal enforcement of cannabis laws and the harm caused by marijuana prohibition to Black and Brown communities, young people, and other marginalized groups.”
Those with past criminal records for activities involving up to four ounces of cannabis will have their convictions automatically expunged under the new law. Those with convictions for more serious offenses can petition the courts to take action.
The new law limits the discriminatory actions that employers, hospitals, and others may take against those who test positive for past cannabis exposure. The act also provides protections for parents and tenants who use cannabis in compliance with the law. It mandates that the odor of marijuana alone cannot be used as a basis for police to search an individual, and it prohibits jail time as a penalty for those under the age of 21 who are caught in possession of marijuana.
Beginning in October of this year, state-registered medical cannabis patients will be permitted to home-cultivate up to three mature and three immature marijuana plants. Non-participants in the state’s medical cannabis program must wait until 2023 until they are legally permitted to home-cultivate marijuana for their own personal use without any penalties.
Marijuana flowers available at retail facilities will be capped at 30 percent THC, while concentrated products (except vape cartridges) will be capped at 60 percent THC. Retail sales of cannabis and cannabis products are not anticipated to begin until some time next year
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted adult-use legalization laws — with five doing so legislatively this year. Voters in South Dakota also passed a legalization law in November, but that measure is the subject of an ongoing legal challenge.
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