Budget signed, legalization left out
Last update: November 6, 2017
On October 31, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed into law a $41.3 billion, two-year state budget that increases taxes by approximately $1 billion over that period. That number could have been significantly reduced had the budget included taxing and regulating marijuana for adults’ use.
The budget also cuts municipal aid, higher education funding, social services, and tens of millions of dollars from energy conservation programs. According to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, when the subsequent governor and General Assembly begin drafting the next budget, they will be facing a deficit of approximately $4.6 billion unless a new source of revenue is created.
It is deeply disappointing that lawmakers missed this opportunity to enact commonsense marijuana policies that could have generated a new source of revenue, thereby saving the state money while creating new jobs and causing a major increase in tourism.
However, this conversation is not over in Connecticut. When lawmakers return in February, we will continue the fight to enact legalization in 2018. In the meantime, please keep talking to lawmakers about this issue, educate your friends and family, and stay tuned for other ways to help in the fight!
Democrats include legalization in budget proposal
On May 16, 2017, Connecticut Democrats revealed their newest budget proposal, which includes the taxing and regulating of marijuana for adults’ use. It’s time for Republicans and Gov. Dannel Malloy to join them and the majority of Connecticut residents who support a sensible approach to marijuana policy.
During the General Assembly’s 2017 session, momentum built for legalization with four bills introduced— SB 11, HB 5314, HB 5539, and HB 6518. Hearings were held in two committees, but the bills ultimately failed in committee. However, budget negotiations create a genuine opportunity for Connecticut to adopt a tax and regulate program this year.
In addition to calls and emails, you can help with ending and replacing marijuana prohibition by supporting the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana led by Director Sam Tracy. Like the coalition on Facebook or follow it on Twitter. Interested organizations, volunteers, and grasstops leaders, such as clergy, doctors, and law enforcement, can join the team by completing our form here.
Please also let us know if you have been negatively impacted by marijuana prohibition, including if you’ve been arrested or cited, or if you’ve been in a dangerous situation due to marijuana’s illegality.
In 2016, both regulators and lawmakers expanded Connecticut’s medical marijuana program.
In January, the Department of Consumer Protection approved three additional dispensaries. (See a listing of dispensaries here.) The following month, a legislative committee approved the department’s addition of six new conditions to the 11 already included in the state’s medical marijuana program.
Connecticut is the only medical marijuana state that completely excludes minors, but that will change when a new law takes effect on October 1. On May 17, 2016, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed HB 5450, which will allow minors to qualify if they have been diagnosed with certain medical conditions, if they have two physicians’ certifications, and if their parents consent. HB 5450 will also allow dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to certain medical facilities and will allow nurses to administer marijuana at health care facilities.
Legislative history and background:
Connecticut’s medical marijuana program was originally enacted on June 1, 2012. The program protects patients and caregivers from arrest and prosecution if they have a valid registration card and if the medical marijuana was obtained from the specific dispensary where the patient is registered.
While the program’s expansion is an important move, Connecticut’s law remains far more limited than most other medical marijuana states’ laws. There are several areas of possible improvement, including adding intractable pain and allowing patients access to more than one dispensary. Hopefully, 2017 will see more successful efforts to improve the program. To learn more about Connecticut’s medical marijuana program and how it compares to the programs in other states, visit our state-by-state report.
Legislative history and background:
Since 2011, possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana has been a civil violation in Connecticut, punishable by a fine of up to $150, meaning it is not a jailable offense. Subsequent offenses are subject to increased fines ranging from $200-$500. Upon a third violation, offenders are referred to a drug awareness program. In addition to the fine, anyone under 21 who is found in possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana faces a 60-day suspension of his or her driver’s license.
Although Connecticut has improved its marijuana laws in recent years, adults are still being punished for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol, while most crimes with victims go unsolved.
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Contact us: If you are a law enforcement official, a clergy member, a member of the legal community, or a community leader who supports regulating marijuana, please email [email protected] to see how you can be of special help. Be sure to include your zip code so we can determine who your legislators are.