At a press conference Wednesday to build support for his plan to legalize marijuana in Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont, D and other supporters described the proposal as a thoughtful, data-driven measure that will address decades of disproportionate harm to the blacks of the state should and brown residents. With the bill slated for the committee’s first hearing on Friday, some social justice advocates have deep concerns about the structure of the legal market.
“It took a long time,” said the governor of his proposal. “We’ve been talking about this for ages, and I think now is the time to legalize adult recreational marijuana in a carefully regulated manner, with justice and equity at the forefront. Now is the time. “
Lamont, the began circulating a draft legalization law Last month, the state’s enforcement of current laws against cannabis was described as “unpredictable with prejudice” and “fundamentally unfair” to people of color.
“I am proud of what we have done in terms of justice and the repeal of those beliefs,” said the governor of the bill. SB 888. “We can do this safely … it fixes some of the mistakes of the past and gives people who have been hit the hardest a chance to get back on their feet.”
“This is a comprehensive bill, but it has three essential and very logical components: decriminalization, regulation and revenue generation,” said Rep. Michael D’Agostino (D), chairman of the House General Laws Committee and senior coordinator of the governor’s legalization proposal, said at the event on Wednesday. “An animating principle and theme that is embedded in all of these components is justice.”
Not everyone among proponents of stocks is impressed, however. Jason Ortiz, who served as chairman of a Working group convened by the governor on the licensing of cannabis Late last year the press event described “a disgusting display of sheer greed” and added that “SB 888 must be stopped if we are ever to have a serious conversation about justice.”
“I am deeply disappointed, and frankly insulted, that the work of the Equity Discussion Group is being used to support a bill that denies our economic opportunities in the community that they are handing over to the rich white men who control the Connecticut medical industry “said Ortiz. who is also the political director of CT United advocacy group for reform and justice, said Marihuana Moment in an email. “It’s corruption, pure and simple, and they’re taking advantage of my community’s suffering to fill their pockets.”
Under SB 888, Connecticut’s existing medical marijuana companies could begin selling to adults before the rest of the legal market is up and running. This is a head start to getting legal sales started as soon as possible. Critics warn that the approach would create barriers for smaller operators trying to enter the new legal market.
The details of how communities hardest hit by the war on drugs could benefit from the legal industry would be largely determined after officials received a report from a new equity commission, and proponents fear large corporations will enter the market by then could have been cornered.
The Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing on Governor Lamont’s bill on Friday. We will ask the committee to move the bill forward but make changes first to make it stronger and more explicit on equity. Witnesses can register here: https://t.co/tZ9ZopqlWk
– Regulate Connecticut (@Regulate_CT) February 23, 2021
Rather than giving the people affected by the war on drugs priority in licensing, as some other states have tried, Connecticut’s original plan would have a portion of the cannabis tax revenue used to fund local governments and programs in so-called zones of impact, geographic areas under the war seen disproportionate arrests and convictions against drugs.
“What we’ve heard from speaking to regulators in other states and speaking to people in these communities is that this social justice plan needs to be broad-based, and not just focus on who those companies and licenses at the end of the day But what is our impact on the community? “, Said Arunan Arulampalam, deputy commissioner of the department for consumer regulation, at the press conference on Wednesday.
“We will use the proceeds to get back into the community, get back to the communities, keep property taxes down and help some of the hardest-hit communities get back on their feet,” Lamont added. “I think that’s an important part of the justice that we’re up to.”
“I think now is the time for legalized marijuana for legal adult use in a carefully regulated manner with an emphasis on justice and justice.” https://t.co/1xYyEaV6g6
– Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) February 24, 2021
In a Facebook post following Wednesday’s event, Ortiz drew attention to recommendations he had made as chairman of the governor’s marijuana licensing task force that failed to make it into the bill, including proposals to set up a capital fund to deploy interest-free loans for equity applicants and a requirement that equity applicants must control at least half of all licenses before a legal sale can begin.
“Ask the governor and any rich white men searching for his bill to refer to the specific line in SB888 that implemented these recommendations,” he wrote. “The bill literally says only a handful of wealthy white men can sell cannabis, but the governor’s office will claim that equity advocates like me are the barrier to community investment?”
In a separate postOrtiz drew attention to a competing marijuana bill, HB 6377This includes additional equity measures, including the priority application and financing of low-interest loans from equity applicants. “The difference between these two approaches to politics and governance,” he wrote, “couldn’t be greater.”
HB 6377 was introduced on February 2, more than a week before SB 888, and referred to the Joint Committee on Labor and Public Employees. The panel held a public hearing on February 9, but has not yet voted on the measure.
Lamont’s account will be belongs on Friday by the Legislative Joint Judiciary Committee.
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Mike Taylor, professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven, said Wednesday that more than 7,500 people were arrested and charged with marijuana possession in Connecticut in 2020. “That’s about 10 percent of the business of our criminal courts,” said Taylor.
Other speakers at Wednesday’s press event included Michelle Seagull, Commissioner for the Department of Consumer Protection, who spoke about marijuana packaging and advertising limits aimed at preventing minors’ use.
A reporter from Hartford-based CBS TV subsidiary WFSB asked Seagull if the bill would allow billboard advertising along the interstates, noting that some Connecticut companies have already put up billboards asking residents to stop using marijuana the frontier in Massachusetts to buy.
“The restrictions here only apply to the Connecticut companies that we license. It’s kind of a universe that we can control, ”Seagull replied. “We cannot regulate what it is [Massachusetts] Businesses in Connecticut are committed to attracting people. “
Interjected Lamont, saying he didn’t think cannabis companies from either state should advertise their businesses on billboards.
“Let me talk to Governor Charlie Baker about it,” he said, referring to his counterpart in Massachusetts, “because it doesn’t make sense that he can advertise in Connecticut and our boys can’t.” I also don’t think that billboard advertising should be done. I think it’s the wrong way and I’ll get that straight. “
ICYMI: Watch today’s discussion of Governor Lamont’s proposal to responsibly and fairly legalize and regulate adult marijuana use in Connecticut.
– Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) February 24, 2021
Despite disagreements over the details of the proposed directive, many expect legalization to take place in Connecticut in the near future. House spokesman Matt Ritter (D) said so in November Legalization in the state is “inevitable”. Later that month he added, “I think it has a 50-50 chance of passing [in 2021]and i think you should vote anyway. “
Should this year’s effort fail, Ritter said he would move to bet a constitutional issue on the state’s vote in 2022 that would leave the matter to the electorate. A survey published last year found this almost two thirds of the voters (63.4 percent) either “strongly” or “somewhat” supported the legalization of leisure activities.