Hartford, Conn.- Big changes could be coming to Connecticut’s cannabis laws. State lawmakers are considering bills to legalize recreational use as well as a plan to allow cannabis “lounges.”
If H.B. 5458 and S.B.487 are enacted, then adults 21 and over would be allowed to purchase up to one ounce of cannabis flower through a state-approved dispensary. Residents would also be permitted to cultivate up to six cannabis plants at home. The bills would also set up a tax framework for cannabis sales. Dispensary operators would pay $50 in taxes per ounce of cannabis flower sold.
Though it is unclear if lawmakers will vote to legalize recreational cannabis sales at this time, Connecticut could lose out on tax revenue and jobs to neighboring states if they fail to do so.
“Massachusetts, Maine and now Vermont have moved forward with this policy and are regulating marijuana like alcohol. Very soon people are going to be able to drive over the Massachusetts border and purchase marijuana legally if they are over 21. So Connecticut, if we stay with our current course of inaction, we are losing all of the tax revenue to Massachusetts,” Sam Tracey of Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana said according to RIPR.org.
Connecticut Rep. Joshua Elliot echoed what Tracey said about legalization.
“People can take a 20-minute drive across the border buy their recreational cannabis and come back to the state, no repercussions because it’s been decriminalized here. And all that’s happening is that marijuana has been de facto legalized in Connecticut but we are losing out on the revenue,” Elliot said.
Rep. Steven Stafstrom does not see why substances far more harmful are legal in Connecticut but cannabis remains prohibited.
“Those being opioids, alcohol and tobacco. All of which we have found a regulatory structure for,” Stafstrom said.
The cannabis regulatory bills would also allow for designated consumption areas, or “lounges.” Legalizing these areas where customers can legally consume cannabis is important for both residents and tourists. When visitors legally purchase cannabis in other states such as Nevada, California, or Colorado, they often have no place to consume cannabis legally. Most hotels will not allow them to use onsite. A similar problem arises for residents as well, especially those with landlords that do not permit them cannabis in their units.