Starting next week, Connecticut residents will be legally allowed to possess and smoke weed, but retail sales are not expected to begin until 2022.
Connecticut just became the latest US state to throw out its outdated cannabis prohibition laws and join the wave of legalization sweeping the East Coast.
This Tuesday, Governor Ned Lamont (D) signed Senate Bill 1201 into law, officially legalizing adult use and possession of cannabis and establishing a licensed and regulated retail market. Starting on July 1st, adults will be allowed to legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of flower or concentrates in public and up to five ounces at home. Lamont has been fighting for legalization ever since he took office, and even suggested he might even smoke a joint to celebrate.
“For decades, the war on cannabis caused injustices and created disparities while doing little to protect public health and safety,” said Lamont in a statement. “The law that I signed today begins to right some of those wrongs by creating a comprehensive framework for a regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, criminal justice, and equity. It will help eliminate the dangerous, unregulated market and support a new and equitable sector of our economy that will create jobs.”
“This measure is comprehensive, protects our children and the most vulnerable in our communities, and will be viewed as a national model for regulating adult-use cannabis,” the governor continued. “By signing this into law today, we are helping our state move beyond this terrible period of incarceration and injustice.”
Although adults will be able to legally possess and smoke weed next week, retail sales are not expected to begin until the end of 2022. Sales of all THC products, including hemp-derived delta-8- and delta-10-THC, will remain illegal until the state completes the process of licensing and regulating adult-use dispensaries. Weed flower will be capped at 30 percent THC content and concentrates will be capped at 60 percent.
Retail sales will be hit with a 6.35 percent state sales tax, a 3 percent municipal tax, and a variable excise tax. This additional tax will range from 0.625 cents per milligram of THC for flower, 2.75 cents/mg for edibles, and 0.9 cents/mg for all other products. Some of this tax revenue will go to fund economic opportunities in communities that have been most negatively impacted by the War on Drugs, and some will be used to fund additional substance misuse prevention and treatment services.
Medical cannabis patients will be able to grow up to three mature and three immature plants starting on October 1st, and other adults will be able to grow their own pot starting on July 1st, 2023. Adults will be allowed to freely give weed to one another, but the law specifically bans the “gifting” of weed in connection with a purchase or donation. This provision will prevent the expansion of grey-market weed gifting businesses, which have become popular in Washington DC, Vermont, and New Jersey.
The new law also prevents most employers from taking adverse action against a current or prospective employee for off-hours cannabis use. The law also offers protections for college students, tenants, and licensed professionals. Medical facilities will not be allowed to ban cannabis users from receiving organ transplants or other medical care, and child services will not be allowed to take action against parents solely because of their cannabis use.
Starting in 2023, state courts will begin automatically expunging the criminal records of anyone who had previously been busted for possessing up to four ounces of weed. People who have been convicted for other minor weed crimes, including paraphernalia possession and minor sales, can personally apply to have their records cleared. Cops will also be banned from using the odor of cannabis as an excuse to justify a search or traffic stop. Anyone who sells weed to a minor can still be fined and thrown in jail for up to a year, though, and minors caught with weed can be fined, but not jailed.
“State lawmakers are to be commended for enacting model legislation that will move Connecticut forward,” said Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML and 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.”