House members have approved legislation, Senate Bill 1201, legalizing the adult use of marijuana and regulating its commercial production and sale, during a special legislative session.

Commenting on the advancement of the bill, NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf said: “Lawmakers are to be commended for prioritizing the passage of this important legislation prior to the close of the 2021 special legislative session. Marginalized communities have disproportionately suffered for decades because of the discriminatory enforcement of marijuana laws in Connecticut. This bill is a step toward addressing that shameful legacy and it will provide long-needed relief to communities that have historically experienced the collateral consequences of prohibition. It also comports Connecticut’s marijuana laws with those of a growing number of neighboring states — like New Jersey, New York, and Vermont — that have wisely moved away from cannabis criminalization and have embraced legalization and regulation. ”

The measure allows adults 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flowers or an equivalent amount of cannabis concentrates in public, and up to five ounces of marijuana in their private residence. Adults will be able to possess cannabis without penalty beginning on July 1, 2021.

“Connecticut is just the latest domino to fall as states begin to repeal their failed prohibition of marijuana and replace it with a sensible system of legalization and regulation. Never before has the momentum for legalization looked as strong as it does in 2021, with four state legislatures already approving bills to ensure state law reflects the overwhelming will of their state residents in just a few short months,” stated Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director, “Federal lawmakers need to stop dragging their feet and get the message: it is time to take swift action to end our federal prohibition and allow states to legalize marijuana as they see fit.”

Beginning in October of this year, state-registered medical cannabis patients will be permitted to home-cultivate up to three mature and three immature marijuana plants. Non-participants in the state’s medical cannabis program must wait until 2023 until they are legally permitted to home-cultivate marijuana for their own personal use without any penalties.

Those with past criminal records for activities involving up to four ounces of cannabis will have their convictions automatically expunged. Those with convictions for more serious offenses can petition the courts to take action.  

The measure limits the discriminatory actions that employers, hospitals, and others may take against those who test positive for past cannabis exposure. The bill also provides protections for parents and tenants who use cannabis in compliance with the law. It mandates that the odor of marijuana alone cannot be used as a basis for police to search an individual, and it prohibits jail time as a penalty for those under the age of 21 who are caught in possession of marijuana.

Under the legislation, marijuana flowers available at retail facilities will be capped at 30 percent THC, while concentrated products (except vape cartridges) will be capped at 60 percent THC.

House lawmakers approved the bill with a 76 to 62 vote. Members of the Senate approved the bill by a vote of 19 to 12 Tuesday. Because House members made amendments to the bill, it will need to be approved one final time by Senators prior to being transmitted to the Governor. 

Eighteen states have enacted adult-use legalization laws — with four doing so legislatively this year.

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