S.B. 1201 receives final approval from legislature; now heads to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk
Hartford, CT — A bill to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and over has received final approval from both chambers of Connecticut’s legislature. S.B. 1201, which is sponsored by Senate President Martin Looney and House Speaker Matt Ritter, passed the Senate and House of Representatives by margins of 16-11 and 76-62, respectively. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Ned Lamont, who is expected to sign it into law.
With the governor’s signature, Connecticut will become the 19th state to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over and the fourth state to adopt a legalization policy this year alone, joining New Mexico, New York, and Virginia.
The Marijuana Policy Project played a leading role in the fight to reform Connecticut’s cannabis laws.
“Connecticut is on the cusp of becoming the latest state to legalize cannabis. This year has shown us that state legislatures are capable of rising to the challenge to end cannabis prohibition. A supermajority of Americans have made it clear that they favor a system of legalization and regulation rather than the status quo. This victory will add to the momentum towards cannabis policy reform in other states and at the federal level,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project.
S.B. 1201 will legalize possession of up to one and a half ounces for adults 21 and over. The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2021, with legal sales anticipated by May 2022. Adults will be allowed to securely cultivate cannabis at home starting July 1, 2023. A full summary of the bill is available here, and a comparison between it and other state legalization laws is available here.
In addition to legalizing cannabis, S.B. 1201 includes expungement of lower-level cannabis records and dedicates the bulk of excise tax revenues into a Social Equity and Innovation Fund, which will be used to promote a diverse cannabis industry and reinvest in hard-hit communities. Half of new cannabis business licenses will be issued to social equity applicants, who can receive technical assistance, start-up funding, assistance from an accelerator program, and workforce training.
“The Connecticut Legislature’s commitment to legalizing cannabis through a justice-centered approach is commendable. For decades, cannabis prohibition and criminalization has harmed some of the state’s most vulnerable communities. This bill not only ends this failed and unjust policy, but it also includes measures that will work to repair the harm that it has caused. This state will be a model for others to follow. MPP is proud to have played a leading role in the fight to end prohibition in Connecticut,” said DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Polling has shown that a strong majority of Connecticut residents support legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis for adult use. Meanwhile, the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis reported that cannabis legalization will create strong growth in jobs, revenue, and GDP in the state.