Connecticut Senate Has Passed Legalizing Marijuana
At the start of the week, the Senate In Connecticut approved a piece of legislation to legalize marijuana. Now the next step of the process is sending the bill off for the last phase of voting which will be done by the House. This last approval comes just days left in the legislative session.
Those who the heads of the House have mentioned they plan to take up the legislation in that chamber before Wednesday’s end-of-session deadline Yet it will be sorted following working out matters concerning the state budget.
This cannabis bill is the result of much work from weeks of discussions between congressional leaders and the office of Gov. Ned Lamont. The final language was submitted this past weekend. This did not leave, legislators with enough time to examine the language of the bill. However, in the middle of a marathon floor discussion that happened Tuesday morning, the Senate approved the bill in a victorious 19–17 vote.
“We have seen what has been wrought by having a war on drugs,” Sen. Gary Winfield (D) said on the floor before the vote. “Whole communities have been decimated. And some people will say, ‘Well, there are not a lot of people in our state in jail for cannabis today,’ but there are vestigial ways in which communities are still impacted by what we were doing.”
Pushing Legal Cannabis Further In Connecticut
Regarding that cannabis at one time was once available in American apothecaries. Winfield went through the past of the drug war and discussed that marijuana prohibition’s racist roots. Which continue to be felt today.
“The reason I think we should legalize cannabis is not because of the money—that’s an important part of this,” he added, “but because we should have never made cannabis an illegal drug. It should never have been prohibited. It should never have been a Schedule I drug, particularly given how it got there.”
Questioned whether there will be sufficient backing in the House to advance the bill, Majority Leader Jason Rojas shared his thoughts. He went on to say that he thinks the votes will be in favor however, he’s “still answering lots of questions” from members about specific provisions.
“I’m confident that we’ll get there,” he stated.
House Speaker Matt Ritter added that “we do expect it to pass.”
“We don’t think we’ll have 97 votes,” he said, referring to the total number of Democratic members in the body. “We understand there will be noes in our caucus … But we’ve heard from a few people on the other side of the aisle too that have had a chance to digest and stuff, and I would say there’s a few people involved in conversations there too.”
What Will Come From Legal Marijuana In Connecticut?
He also left open the possibility that opponents may attempt to run out the clock. This can lead to a debate on the legalization measure all the way to the session’s mandated end. But if that happens, he said, he could call lawmakers back into a special session as early as the following day to tackle the issue. On the Senate floor, Republicans with a strong force stood against the proposal, arguing that broadly legalizing marijuana would risk condoning cannabis use, especially among youth.
“I do believe this is the wrong direction for the state of Connecticut. I think there’s so many unanswered questions,” stated Sen. John Kissel. He also said he took credit for being a chief proponent and framer of the state’s existing medical marijuana law.
“When you call it recreational marijuana, it sounds like, you know, a playground, like an amusement park, like playing cards with your friends,” he continued. “Well, it might be a little more dangerous than that, you know?”
Final Thoughts On Legalizing Cannabis In Connecticut
A once former police officer Sen. Dan Champagne claimed the bill would create headaches for police. He pressed Winfield on the difficulties of identifying acute cannabis intoxication in drivers. He also mentions the fear of the high costs involved with training drug recognition experts. This would be done so people can identify people under the influence of marijuana. He’s also worried that allowing individuals to possess up to five ounces of cannabis i could fuel the illicit market.
“I figured we’d have a lot more security, a lot more, ‘This is what we’re going to do to protect people,’” he said. “Instead I see giveaways to the unions. I see a slush fund being created. Yet I just see a lot of problems in here. I fear for our youth.”
Before the negotiations, the governor supported a separate legalization bill. This particular bill experienced vital criticism from advocates. This was done for a lack of social equity stipulations aimed at correcting the wrongs of the drug war. That legislation moved through two committees, but it will not be the vehicle for the reform moving forward.