Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, signed legislation Tuesday legalizing recreational marijuana use in the state beginning July 1.
With his signature, Connecticut becomes the 19th state to legalize recreational use of the drug, joining its neighbors New York and New Jersey, which passed legislation earlier this year.
Retail sales are expected to begin in 2022. The new law allows people ages 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana on their person, and up to 5 ounces secured in their homes or cars. It opens the door for medical marijuana users in the state to grow their own plants at home ― up to six ― while promising recreational users the chance to do so beginning July 2023.
The bill also aims to alleviate the disproportionate effects the nation’s decadeslong war on drugs has had on communities of color. The state will grant half of all initial licenses to grow marijuana commercially to “social equity” applicants, and tax dollars from cannabis sales will flow into underserved communities to provide economic opportunities, such as business capital and education.
The state expects to eventually collect more than $70 million in marijuana-related revenue per fiscal year.
Certain past marijuana-related convictions, such as those where people were charged for possessing or selling up to 4 ounces, will be expunged.
“For decades, the war on cannabis caused injustices and created disparities while doing little to protect public health and safety,” Lamont said in a statement. “The law that I signed today begins to right some of those wrongs by creating a comprehensive framework for a regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, criminal justice, and equity.”
Police are expected to be trained in “the latest techniques” of detecting impaired driving, Lamont added. Legal marijuana use is limited to private homes and other spaces where cigarette smoking is allowed, with the exception of cars.
At least one Connecticut town, Prospect, has already taken action to protest the bill. Prospect’s planning and zoning commission voted last week to prohibit cannabis sellers from setting up shop in the small town.
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