Democrats in the Judiciary Committee in Connecticut have moved closer to sending a bill to the governor’s office that would create a recreational cannabis market in the state.
The bill however still needs work.
“I will admit to members of this committee at the outset that this bill very much remains a work in progress,” said Rep. Steven Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, co-chair of the committee.
The bill, which is over 200 pages long, deals with finance, regulatory and licensing issues, Stafstrom said.
The vote had 22 in favor with 16 against the proposal, including three Democrats, Sens. Saud Anwar, D-South Windsor, and Alex Kasser, D-Greenwich, and Rep. Daniel Fox, D-Stamford.
The bill would legalize marijuana for adult use, tax it, and decriminalize it under certain circumstances.
“This conversation is far, far from over,” said Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven. “I hope that we continue this conversation by voting the bill out today so that the interests of all those involved are represented in the conversation.”
Republicans have been very critical of the bill and many cited marijuana’s status as a controlled substance federally as the reason for their no votes.
“Out of respect for the oath that I took as a state representative to uphold the federal and state constitutions, I cannot find myself in support of this,” said Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, ranking member of the committee.
Fishbein has highlighted that no one from the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services “was willing to testify that this product is not of concern to them.”
“I would’ve thought that those individuals that our state taxpayers pay to make those determinations, make those recommendations, to advise us on those issues, if they felt comfortable with this would actually come to us,” he said.
The bill, in its current form, calls for the revenue generated from the sale of recreational marijuana to be spent with 55% going to social equity efforts, 15% on grants for prevention and recovery services and 30% to the general fund to cover administrative costs.
Rep. Kimberly Fiorello, R-Greenwich has said she found the language to be problematic and outside the role of government.
“If we want to legalize marijuana, then legalize marijuana, but this aspiration is misguided. It’s something that we can speak about. I don’t know how you legislate equality, equity and expect the laws do all this,” Fiorello said.