Connecticut’s General Law Committee has approved a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana, moving the state closer to the pro-recreational cannabis stance that neighboring Massachusetts established last year.
In addition to allowing those aged 21 and older to buy marijuana, HB 7371 would establish a licensing process for growers, manufacturers and retailers of the substance, centered on a governor-appointed commission within the Department of Consumer Protection.
Among other things, the Cannabis Control Commission would be required to complete a study to determine if people aged 21 and older should be allowed to grow their own marijuana for personal use, where such cannabis can be grown and any other related public safety or regulatory issues the commission deems necessary. That report would be due by Jan. 1, 2020.
The bill would also establish a nonrefundable application fee structure for each cannabis cultivation license, with a fee ranging from $25,000 to $75,000 for each application submitted; renewals would be required at least every two years.
HB 7371 also provides for some “equity incentives” for those living or doing business in areas where high rates of marijuana-related arrests have occurred. Advantages for those entrepreneurs would include a lower-fee structure and priority in the application process. Nonqualifying entrepreneurs would be required to reinvest or provide employment opportunities in those communities disproportionately impacted by high rates of arrest and conviction and having a history of economic disinvestment.
The legislature’s Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the legislation on Thursday. Gov. Ned Lamont has indicated that he is in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana.