Adult-Use Cannabis Legalized In Connecticut
Governor Ned Lamont has signed into law legislation that legalizes and safely regulates the adult-use of cannabis in Connecticut. The legislation contains comprehensive reforms that address many areas, including equity, criminal justice, public health, and public safety.
“For decades, the war on cannabis caused injustices and created disparities while doing little to protect public health and safety,” Governor Lamont said. “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. It will help eliminate the dangerous, unregulated market and support a new and equitable sector of our economy that will create jobs.
“The states surrounding us already, or soon will, have legal adult-use markets. By allowing adults to possess cannabis, regulating its sale and content, training police officers in the latest techniques of detecting and preventing impaired driving, and expunging the criminal records of people with certain cannabis crimes, we’re not only effectively modernizing our laws and addressing inequities, we’re keeping Connecticut economically competitive. This legislation directs significant new funding to prevention and recovery services, which will be used to help prevent cannabis use by minors and to promote safe, healthy use of cannabis by those of legal age.”
The legislation Governor Lamont signed today is Senate Bill 1201. A proposal to legalize adult-use cannabis was initially put forward by Governor Lamont to the General Assembly earlier this year as Senate Bill 888. He also proposed similar legislation in February 2020 as Senate Bill 16.
Key components of the new law include:
Possession: Possession of cannabis among adults age 21 and over will be legal in Connecticut beginning July 1, 2021. Adults cannot have more than 1.5 ounces of cannabis on their person, and no more than 5 ounces in their homes or locked in their car truck or glove box.
Retail sales: Retail sales of cannabis aim to begin in Connecticut by the end of 2022. The sale, manufacture, and cultivation of cannabis (aside from home grow) requires a license from the state. Products that contain delta-8-THC, delta-9-THC, or delta-10-THC are considered cannabis and may only be sold by licensed retailers. Individuals who are not licensed by the state may gift cannabis to others but may not sell it. Individuals may not gift cannabis to another individual who has “paid” or “donated” for another product.
Homegrown: Patients who are participating in Connecticut’s medical marijuana program will be permitted to cultivate up to six cannabis plants (three mature, three immature) indoors within their homes beginning Oct. 1, 2021. All adults age 21 and over will be permitted to grow a similar number of plants indoors within their homes beginning July 1, 2023. The law includes requirements to keep the plants secure from anyone else. Home grow of up to six cannabis plants is defelonized beginning July 1, 2021, and instead will result in infractions.
Erases prior convictions: Certain cannabis-related convictions that occurred between Jan. 1, 2000 and Oct. 1, 2015 will be automatically erased. Those seeking to erase cannabis-related convictions outside of that period will require petitioning.
Equity and investments: To start the necessary work of repairing the damage caused by decades of failed cannabis criminalization policies, the law implements equitable marketplace requirements under which at least half of all initial licenses are reserved for social equity applicants, targeting those communities that have been most negatively impacted by the so-called war on drugs. The Social Equity Council, which is created by this legislation, will launch programs and supports for social equity applicants in the cannabis market.
Tax structure: The law enacts a tax rate structure on the retail sale of cannabis that includes a new source of revenue for municipalities. This includes (1) a 3% municipal sales tax, which will be directed to the town or city where the retail sale occurred; (2) the 6.35% state sales tax; and (3) a tax based on the THC content of the product, which will be 2.75 cents per milligram of THC for cannabis edibles; 0.625 cents per milligram of THC for cannabis flower; and 0.9 cents per milligram of THC for all other product types. This means that Connecticut generally will have about a 4% lower tax rate than New York and about the same as Massachusetts.
Medical marijuana program: The law protects Connecticut’s nation-leading medical marijuana program in many ways. For example, producers and dispensaries that currently operate in the medical marijuana program may expand or convert their licenses for adult-use cannabis, but they must prioritize serving the medical program. Medical marijuana users will soon be able to purchase medical marijuana from any dispensary rather than simply the one to which they are assigned.