Connecticut Poised to Become 19th State to Legalize Cannabis

Today, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted (76-62) in favor of a bill that would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over. The bill, which is sponsored by Senate President Martin Looney and House Speaker Matt Ritter, will now return to the Senate for final approval before it heads to the desk of Gov. Ned Lamont, who is expected to sign it into law. S.B. 1201, and a nearly identical bill — S.B. 1118, previously passed the Senate by margins of 19-12 and 19-17, respectively. The Senate plans to reconvene at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow to take up the House-passed version of S.B. 1201 and a separate bill.

With the governor’s signature, Connecticut will become the 19th state to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over and the fourth state to adopt a legalization policy this year alone, joining New Mexico, New York, and Virginia. 

The Marijuana Policy Project played a leading role in the fight to reform Connecticut’s cannabis laws. 

“Connecticut is on the cusp of becoming the latest state to legalize cannabis. This year has shown us that state legislatures are capable of rising to the challenge to end cannabis prohibition. A supermajority of Americans have made it clear that they favor a system of legalization and regulation rather than the status quo. This victory will add to the momentum towards cannabis policy reform in other states and at the federal level,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project.

S.B. 1201 will legalize possession of up to one and a half ounces for adults 21 and over. The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2021, with legal sales anticipated by May 2022. Under the bill, persons with convictions for cannabis possession from January 1, 2000 through September 30, 2015 will have their records automatically expunged. Persons with convictions for possession and sales of less than four ounces before July 1, 2021 will be allowed to petition the court to have their records erased at no cost. A full summary of the bill is available.

“The Connecticut Legislature’s commitment to legalizing cannabis through a justice-centered approach is commendable. For decades, cannabis prohibition and criminalization has harmed some of the state’s most vulnerable communities. This bill not only ends this failed and unjust policy, but it also includes measures that will work to repair the harm that it has caused. This state will be a model for others to follow. MPP is proud to have played a leading role in the fight to end prohibition in Connecticut,” said DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Polling has shown that a strong majority of Connecticut residents support legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis for adult use. Meanwhile, the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis reported that cannabis legalization will create strong growth in jobs, revenue, and GDP in the state. 

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