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Connecticut Democrats To Try Again For Marijuana Legalization

David Zalubowski

Connecticut Democrats say the legalization of the sale of marijuana for recreational use by adults is on their agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

Democratic Senate President Martin Looney has been a longtime supporter of marijuana legalization. He says it’s time for Connecticut to get it done.

“Our neighboring states are in the process of having, or soon, to adopt it so it would seem that we would be like a holdout against Prohibition in 1933 were we to delay much longer.”

The bills would expunge some drug-related criminal records, establish an equity commission to encourage entrepreneurship in certain low-income neighborhoods, and allow some ex-offenders to get involved in the legal pot business.

State Senator Doug McCrory, a Hartford Democrat, says the state should legalize pot and provide equity for communities affected by the war on drugs. He says the states that have legalized pot have not adequately provided equity for marginalized communities.

“I’m just saying, as the state of Connecticut, we should be demonstrating to other states how it should be done. So that individuals and others can get involved in this system from seed cultivation to sale.”

Matt Simon, New England political director for the pro-cannabis lobby, Marijuana Policy Project, says Connecticut is losing business to pot shops 15 miles across the border in Massachusetts.

“That’s just an awful lot of money and an awful lot of jobs and economic opportunity that would be going to other states around Connecticut, and not helping Connecticut.” 

Governor Ned Lamont supports legalizing pot. He’s been working with New York and other neighboring states to come up with compatible regulations.

Lawmakers estimate legal marijuana could generate $160 million a year in taxes.

No Connecticut Republicans have supported the idea yet. 

A similar package of bills put forth by Democrats failed last year.

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.
Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.