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Connecticut House Debates Original Marijuana Bill After Lamont Threatens Veto Of Amended Version

Conn. Gov. Ned Lamont
Jessica Hill
Associated Press
Conn. Gov. Ned Lamont

The Connecticut state House is taking action on a marijuana legalization bill in a special session Wednesday, but it’s not the same version of the bill that the Senate passed on Tuesday.

Speaker Matt Ritter said the House Democrats decided to take action on the original version of the bill that they didn’t get to before the session ended last week.

Governor Ned Lamont said he would veto the amended Senate version that passed in special session.

“When the governor said he was going to veto it. That was the end of the conversation for a lot of people,” Ritter said.

House Majority Leader Jason Rojas acknowledged that the Senate amendment of some of the social equity provisions had been at the request of Democrats in his chamber.

“Certainly there is still a desire on the part of some of my colleagues to include that definition. But we want to go back and live up to the deal that we had with the governor, when we originally came to that agreement,” Rojas said.

Lamont had threatened to veto the amended bill because of changes to how the legislation would build equity in the potential pot industry.

“We had an agreed upon process, really good emphasis upon equity, really good emphasis on emphasizing out most distressed communities to make sure that they got the resources they need to start up a business — those communities that were hardest hit by the war on drugs,” Lamont said.

Lamont said the amendment gives anyone with a prior cannabis arrest or conviction priority in obtaining a license to grow and sell marijuana.

“A rich suburban kid is selling pot outside of a high school and he gets busted, all of a sudden he’s at the front of the line in order to get a license? That didn’t seem to make much sense to me. And I really think it’s the community, not the person in the judicial, who ought to be prioritized,” Lamont said.

The House version of the bill would have to go back to the Senate for approval before it heads to Lamont’s desk for his signature.

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.