Lawmakers to Hold Public Hearing on Bill to End Marijuana Prohibition in Connecticut
Supporters of cannabis legalization hold a pre-hearing press conference
Hartford, CT — On Monday, the Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on legislation that would end prohibition and regulate marijuana for adult use in Connecticut.
In early February, Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney (D) and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D) introduced Governor’s Bill No. 16, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess and purchase up to one and a half ounces of cannabis from licensed retailers. A summary of the marijuana regulation bill can be found here.
Prior to the hearing, the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana joined together with prominent supporters for a press conference to rally support for legislation to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adult use in Connecticut.
Veterans, civil rights activists, clergy, law enforcement, healthcare professionals, minority business advocates, economists, social workers, state leaders, and legislators came together to voice their support for action on the Governor’s Bill and stayed to testify at the public hearing.
Organizations represented included the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana; the Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors; the New England Veterans Alliance; the Minority Cannabis Business Association; Clergy United for Marijuana Reform; the State Department of Consumer Protection; Doctors for Cannabis Regulation; Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; ACLU CT; The Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut, School of Business; the Connecticut Progressive Caucus; the Working Families Party; and municipal and state representatives of Bloomfield, Bridgeport, East Hartford, Hamden, Hartford, New Haven, and Stamford.
Speakers included the Rev. Charlie L. Stallworth of East End Baptist Tabernacle Church (Bridgeport); Commissioner Michelle Seagull, Department of Consumer Protection; Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin; Steven Hernandez, Esq., executive director of the Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors; Steve Kennedy, Connecticut team leader, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; Jason Ortiz, board president, Minority Cannabis Business Association; Shaleen Title, Esq., commissioner, Cannabis Control Commission, Attorney DeVaughn Ward, co-director of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana; the Rev. Tommie Jackson of Rehoboth Fellowship Church (Stamford); and Judiciary Committee Chairs, Sen. Gary Winfield (New Haven) and Rep. Steve Stafstrom (Bridgeport).
Quotes from the event:
“As mayor of Hartford, I have seen firsthand how prohibition is a failed policy. Ending the prohibition on marijuana will allow for regulation bringing public health and public safety standards. It will help address equity and bring social justice to those in impacted communities throughout our state such as the City of Hartford. It will grow jobs and the economy and bring much-needed new revenue into the state’s economy.” – Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin
“The time is now to legalize marijuana, expunge records for marijuana charges, and provide business opportunities for people in the hardest hit drug war communities. As a mental health professional for over 40 years, I believe it’s time to allocate any type of substance or behavioral abuse to the realm of public health, adequately funding community resources to support people regaining balance in their lives. I unequivocally support G.B. 16.” – Brian Ahern, LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker)
“Connecticut can’t afford to wait any longer before addressing this urgent issue. It’s time to right the many wrongs associated with the prohibition of marijuana, and Connecticut can and should be a leader in this process. I urge our legislators to pass Governor’s Bill 16. The bill will regulate and tax cannabis for adults and end the harmful and failed policy of prohibition in our state.” – Bishop Robert L. Middleton, pastor of New Beginnings Ministry in Hamden
“Veterans who could benefit from cannabis — or simply want to use it to relax — should have that option. And they should have safe, regulated access. On the illicit market, cannabis can have dangerous heavy metals, additives, and pesticides. After fighting for this country, they should not have to creep around like criminals for using a substance that is safer than alcohol and many prescriptions.” – Steve Kennedy, Connecticut team leader, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
“Governor’s Bill #16 will create a dedicated equity commission to finally address the needs and stories of my community. Now we will not only have a seat at the table, we will have our own whole table to dig deep into what was done to our communities and build new economic opportunities as owners of a cutting-edge industry. This bill advances the cause of social justice and for that we applaud the governor and stand in support of the Governor’s Bill.” – Jason Ortiz, board president, Minority Cannabis Business Association
“I want to thank Governor Lamont for his leadership on this bill and want to recognize everyone who has spent time to ensure that this legislation is put together thoughtfully. At Consumer Protection, we believe we have the experience and expertise to ensure that an adult-use cannabis program in Connecticut is regulated with public health and safety as a top priority. DCP’s Drug Control Division is looked to nationally for advice on a variety of topics, including our state’s medical marijuana program. I look forward to further discussion on this bill, and DCP remains ready, willing, and able to help in any way we can.” – Commissioner Michelle Seagull, Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection
“Legalization, by going beyond decriminalization, empowers regulators to implement commonsense measures to control the cannabis industry, educate the public and consumers about possible risks, and thus advance public health. Regulation is Connecticut’s best option to address the recent wave of vaping-related illnesses and fatalities around the country. We must reduce harm to cannabis consumers and prevent collateral harm to the public. The longer we wait, the more senseless damage will be done.” – Dr. Hugh Blumenfeld, MD, Ph.D. (Dr. Blumenfeld has worked as a family physician in Hartford since 2010. He is also a member of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana and a spokesman for Doctors for Cannabis Regulation.)
"Responsible regulation, equitable access to opportunities in the industry, and erasure of past convictions are critical elements of this proposal. The onus is now on this legislature to take this bill to the finish line by ensuring that resources be directly reinvested in communities historically devastated by what we now know was a war waged on communities of color on two fronts, through laws that were disproportionately enforced on one side and soul crushing addiction on the other." – Steven Hernandez, Esq., executive director of the Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors