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Connecticut lawmakers take action on raising the age for parole and regulating cannabis products

Opening session of the Legislature at the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut
Jessica Hill
Opening session of the Legislature at the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut.

The Connecticut Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow prisoners serving long sentences for crimes they committed before they were 21 to apply for parole.

It passed by a vote of 23 to 13, after a Republican amendment that would have exempted some specific crimes, was defeated.

The bill is championed by “Raise the Age” advocates who believe young people should not be incarcerated without the possibility of parole.

It would allow eligible prisoners who’ve served 60% of their sentence if it’s less than 50 years or 30%, if it’s more than 50 years, to apply for parole.

Democratic Senator Gary Winfield of New Haven is co-chair of the Judiciary Committee. During debate he urged support for the measure because it’s a compromise after advocates had pushed for raising the cut-off age from 18 to 25.

“People asked why not 24, why not 23, and we came to a consensus that at least until the age of 21 was good public policy,” Winfield said.

The bill now goes to the House for action.

In the House, lawmakers approved stricter regulation of cannabis gummies, edibles and supplements outside the state’s official dispensaries.

The legalization of adult-use marijuana in Connecticut has exposed the need to regulate high THC products, such as gummies, oils and other products sold outside the regulated marketplace, said Representative Michael D’Agostino of Hamden, the House chair of the General Law Committee.

“In convenience stores, in CBD stores across the state you can currently buy products that have THC levels higher than what you can buy in our dispensaries, and that is something that we have to correct,” D’Agostino said.

He added that’s because federal law regulating hemp-based products conflicts with Connecticut law.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 148 to 1. It now goes to the Senate for action.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.