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This Connecticut Senator Voted Against Marijuana Legalization — Here’s Why

By jelena martinovic

Connecticut became the 18th state in the union to legalize recreational marijuana in June 2021, when Governor Ned Lamont signed the bill into law.

The bill, which allows adults 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis, went into effect July 1, and the sale of recreational marijuana is expected to begin this spring. “People have been working on it for 10 years,” Lamont said at the time. “It’s been a long time coming. I think we have a good bill that puts public health first.

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RELATED: Recreational marijuana now legal in Connecticut as government signs bill

The State Department of Consumer Protection revealed earlier this month, more than 15,600 businesses applied for licenses to sell recreational cannabis.

A total of 8,357 applications were submitted before the deadline for the first six licenses granted to social equity candidates, reported Central Maine. The remainder of the 7,245 adult cannabis retailer license applications were submitted to a general lottery.

According to the Connecticut State website, the lottery will run after all social equity contestants have been chosen. Additionally, beginning July 1, 2023, up to 75% of marijuana excise tax revenues will be used to fund social equity efforts.

As Connecticut’s adult-use cannabis industry nears launch, it seems more work is needed to achieve social equity.

The senator calls for more social equity

The Social Equity Council, one of the cornerstones of the legalization agenda, is tasked with overseeing how Connecticut’s new industry deals with the historical harms of cannabis criminalization.

Still, some state officials say they fear the current rules won’t make it easier for minority communities to get licenses to sell and grow cannabis. He explains why.

Dennis Bradley (D-Bridgeport), one of four state senators who voted against the invoicesaid the licensing process favors companies that already hold marijuana licenses and operate cannabis businesses in other states, Bradley said CT Examiner’s Cate Hewitt.

“I don’t see the current model that we have to be an effective model to make it easier for minority business owners to come in and get those licenses,” Bradley said. “I just see it as a way to create an oligarchy of those who have those licenses to be able to enforce those licenses and have a stranglehold on the process.”

RELATED: Ban on Cannabis ‘Gifts’ Criticized by Connecticut Residents

The current model creates an “uneven playing field” on which black and brown communities will be excluded by big business because the legislation allows multiple license applications to be submitted at a cost of $250 each, Bradley correctly pointed out.

The senator pointed out that minority communities would not make money from the sale of cannabis, but rather would be targeted by them. Bradley drew a comparison with the problems arising from the widespread acceptance of tobacco, the lottery and cigarettes.

“If you go to any urban part of America from coast to coast, whether you’re in Bridgeport, Connecticut, or Compton, California, and everyone in between, you see liquor stores in every corner of our community, and you see the negative effect that has on the community, right? Whether it’s domestic violence or issues of theft, larceny or just, you know, from general incompetence, it happens by being addicted to a substance,” the senator said.

marijuana legalization
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What to do ?

Bradley offered several solutions to avoid such a scenario.

First, he suggested that the money from marijuana sales should be invested in more education programs because it would “level[s] the stadium. “

Developing strong regulations regarding the number and location of cannabis stores is also essential.

“We need to create red zones or party districts where you can get access and not allow it to go the way of lottery and booze, tobacco – we can’t let that proliferation happen. produce – if we do, then we can hopefully create the necessary safeguards,” Bradley said.

In addition, counseling and detox services would also make a difference for those in need.

Bradley pointed out that instead of being innovative, his fellow Democrats are following what everyone is doing or has done using models from other states like Colorado. To avoid repeating the same mistakes, he suggested researching the costs and downstream effects of the adult cannabis market.

Bradley concluded with this question: “We say, well, they got all this money from the sale of marijuana, but we don’t do the background study – how much does it cost the police departments, the emergency response, DCF reports, addiction clinics, etc.?”

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been republished with permission.

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