Connecticut legislature working to legalize recreational marijuana

Connecticut Capitol Building.

The state of Connecticut is currently taking steps to legalize recreational marijuana usage, with various bills working toward the ultimate goal of complete legalization.

If passed, bills originating in the Judiciary, General Law and Finance committees will erase criminal records for the possession of small amounts of marijuana, create a standard for driving under the influence and create a tax rate for sales, according to the Connecticut Post

On March 25, a bill titled “An Act Concerning the Retail Sale of Cannabis” that would lay the foundation for a marijuana industry in Connecticut passed the state’s General Law Committee, the Connecticut Mirror said.  

The bill would establish a Cannabis Commission comprised of the Commissioner of Consumer Protection and four commissioners appointed by the governor, according to the bill’s text. The commission would, among other things, promote and encourage full participation in the cannabis industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition and enforcement.

“The commission shall adopt policies and procedures, including, but not limited to: Establishing an ‘equity’ applicant status for potential owners of cannabis establishments, to include individual persons from communities disproportionately impacted by high rates of arrest and conviction, as well as individuals who can demonstrate, via affidavit and other documentation as the commission may require, (A) requisite experience with cannabis cultivation, distribution or the sale or manufacture of cannabis products prior to the effective date of this section, or (B) a prior conviction for possession of cannabis,” the bill reads.

Sen. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, called the bill “an opportunity to correct a wrong.”

“We have...an opportunity to correct a racist law that’s on the books that was meant to incarcerate black and Latino people,” McCrory told the Mirror.

The bill would also require marijuana establishment owners who are not minority entrepreneurs to re-invest in communities that are disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, in ways such as potentially using revenue to help build schools or neighborhood centers, or by hiring people from those communities, the Mirror said.

Rep. Michael D’Agostino, D-Hamden, told the Post that the bills are “just the start of the process” of legalizing marijuana. 

“Legalizing a substance that has been illegal for more than 80 years is a complicated process,” D’Agostino said. 

Medicinal marijuana is currently legal in the state of Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection website. To qualify for a medicinal marijuana prescription, individuals must prove that they are Connecticut residents who are being treated for a debilitating medical condition by a Connecticut-licensed physician.

Additionally, residents must be at least 18 years old and cannot be inmates confined in a correctional institution or facility under the supervision of the Connecticut Department of Corrections, the website said.

Some of the medical conditions considered “debilitating” include cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, the website said.


Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.