A bill to legalize marijuana in Connecticut that’s being backed by the governor was approved by a key committee on Tuesday—but it “remains a work in progress,” the chairman said.
The legislation, which has been amended since its introduction to include a series of new social equity provisions, advanced through the legislature’s Judiciary Committee after a 22-16 vote.
But it’s not the only legalization bill that lawmakers are considering. A competing proposal from Rep. Robyn Porter (D) was approved in the Labor and Public Employees Committee last month.
With the new amendments to Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) bill, the measures are more closely aligned.
“I would submit that that is long overdue here in the state of Connecticut for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that this is a drug that is widely believed to be less addictive and less harmful to the body than many other drugs that we already have legalized and regulate here in the state of Connecticut, including tobacco and alcohol,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Steven Stafstrom (D) said in his opening remarks.
But he reiterated throughout the hearing that while the governor’s bill is “further along and takes into account some of the concerns and criticisms of the bill we heard,” it is “not the end of the conversation.”
“I’m sure we’ll see additional revisions as it moves through the legislative process and its next committee of assignment,” Stafstrom said, adding that it would likely be referred to the Finance Committee next.
As revised, the governor’s legislation would set aside 40 percent of eligible cannabis business license types for social equity applicants.
To qualify as a social equity applicant, a business must have at least 51 percent ownership by a person with a cannabis-related arrest or conviction, someone