A study from the University of Connecticut found that the marijuana industry could generate between $784 and $952 million of revenue in the state over five years. That would be enough to kick-start the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic, the study authors said.
Tuesday’s signing marks the end of years of failed efforts to legalize the drug after the state approved it for medical use in 2012. Years later, dispensaries were still fight to open up for business.
People of color were disproportionately penalized for possession of marijuana in Connecticut, which decriminalized possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana in 2011. Blacks in the state were four times more likely to be arrested than whites for possession of marijuana, according to a report released last year by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Under the new law, the smell of marijuana alone will no longer be a legal reason to stop and search people. Nor the alleged possession of up to five ounces.
“The War on Cannabis, which was at its core a war on people from black and brown communities, not only caused injustice and increased disparities in our state, it did little to protect the public health and safety,” Lamont said in a statement. last week after the state Senate passed the bill.
“We’re not only effectively modernizing our laws and fixing inequities, we’re keeping Connecticut economically competitive with our neighboring states,” he said.
Polls have shown that Americans overwhelmingly support legalization, with a Pew Research Center study this year finding that 60% of adults think marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational usewhile 31% support legalizing it for medical purposes only.
The Connecticut bill had a bumpy ride through the legislature. Mr. Lamont had previously threatened to veto the bill because of a late state Senate amendment that would have given preferential status to retail license applicants with a history of selling or of marijuana use. House members stripped the bill of the provision before passing it last Wednesday.
Debate continued to rage on the state Senate floor Thursday in the final hours before the bill passed by a 16-to-11 margin. Lawmakers who defeated the bill criticized its “social equity” provision, which calls for half of retail licenses to be issued to low-income applicants, and have raised concerns about drug abuse and crime.
But State Senator Martin Looney, a Democrat and one of the sponsors of the legislation, argued that a regulated cannabis industry would make marijuana use safer and pointed to the benefits the state was likely to realize. .
“People drank before Prohibition, people drank during Prohibition, but the problem was that the profits were going to organized crime rather than a regulated tax business,” Looney said.
“Cannabis has been available for so long,” he added. “The reality is that he’s already here.”
Original article: New York Times
Cover image by: Balazs Buszniak
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