With a stroke of his pen last week, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont finally brought to fruition a goal that activists have been chasing for years: legalizing cannabis statewide. The newly signed bill allows adults to carry up to an ounce and a half and store up to five ounces at home or in their car’s trunk or glove box.
Advocates for cannabis equity are satisfied with the final legislation, but the road to get there was a bumpy one. And while the passing of legalization in Connecticut is a significant victory, there’s still a long way to go toward ensuring the state creates a fair industry.
Industry lobbyists closely involved in the state’s legislative process talked to Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary about the bill’s winding path to becoming law and the debate between the legislature and Lamont over the definition of equity.
How We Got Here
Despite Connecticut passing decriminalization in 2011 and establishing a medical program in 2012, efforts to pass adult-use legalization had stalled in recent years. In 2018, a legalization bill passed a House committee vote but failed to advance further. The next year saw another legalization bill and even more debate, but lawmakers ultimately failed to drum up enough votes – despite the support of Lamont, then the newly seated governor.
In 2020, Lamont proposed a legalization framework that was gaining legislative support until the coronavirus pandemic forced the session to end early. This year, with tri-state neighbor New York passing legalization in March and the effects of COVID-19 lessened by vaccine rollouts, cannabis advocates were confident they’d finally make it across the finish line.
It wouldn’t be easy. After running out of time in the regular session because of a lack of Republican support in the House, lawmakers had to return for a special session on June 16. But