Will the Connecticut Legislature Legalize Cannabis?
For the first time ever, a recreational marijuana bill has made it out of committee and is now headed to the full General Assembly for consideration.
The appropriations committee voted 27-24 on Thursday, to approve a bill to legalize recreational weed.
"This bill deserves an opportunity for further conversation and to get into the fine points of what that conversation would be," said Sen. Paul Formica, a Republican from East Lyme per the Hartford Courant.
The legislation calls for officials from several state agencies to develop a plan to legalize and regulate cannabis and to undertake a series of substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs.
Connecticut decriminalized weed in 2011 and has had a well- functioning medical marijuana program since 2012.
But the struggle for recreational weed has tended to take two steps forward then three backward. That frustrating dance appears to be ending.
Sam Tracy of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, who has testified before several committees in the past, said the favorable vote on Thursday was a result of the persistent work on the part of advocates.
“We had made a lot of progress by having four public hearings when we only had two last year,” Tracy said.
"But it is exciting and a lot more progress that a committee has voted [a recreational marijuana bill] out.”
It’s not that Connecticut has anything against weed.
A Sacred Heart University poll last October found that 70 percent of Connecticut residents either “strongly” or “somewhat” support legalizing cannabis for adults and taxing it, of course.
In that Connecticut does not have a mechanism to legalize marijuana with a ballot question, like some states, any resolution needs to pass through the legislature.
“We’re already behind the times here,” Sam Tracy said, referring to the nine states who’ve already legalized marijuana, “but we should act quickly to make sure we’re not left behind the rest of New England.”
Not to worry, Sam, it’s never too late to become the tenth state to legalize recreational marijuana.