Connecticut Gears Up For Cannabis

Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut, USA during autumn.

When it comes to cannabis, the east coast is in catch-up mode compared with the west. While every state along the Pacific Ocean (and next-door Nevada) currently operates retail pot shots, where the Atlantic touches America, marijuana is not so easily procured. Only Maine and Massachusetts currently have adult-use laws, plus Vermont. That leaves a lot of ground left to make up for east-coast cannabis.

But that will change rapidly in the next couple of years. Multiple states on the eastern seaboard are primed to pass recreational laws in the foreseeable future. Bills are moving through the mechanisms of state legislatures. This includes Connecticut.

A government hearing took place this week in the Constitution State, hosted by the Connecticut Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding. The topic was a proposal to tax adult cannabis sales and distribute revenue to underserved communities

This bill would establish a state gross receipts tax of 6.35% on retail cannabis sales; a state tax on transfers from growers of $35 per ounce for cannabis flower, and $13.50 per ounce for trim; and a 3% local option tax on retail sales.

All state tax revenue generated from these sales would funnel into the Community Development Corporation Trust Fund. This provides financial backing for early literacy education and community development corporations, with a focus on bettering the lives of people in economically distressed and underserved communities. 

Local tax funds would go to the municipalities where the retail sales took place.

A separate bill to legalize possession of cannabis for adults 21 and older, plus expunge records for past pot possession convictions, received approval by the Judiciary Committee on April 8. A third bill, which would regulate the production and sale of cannabis for adult use, was approved by the General Law Committee on March 25.

“Under the proposed plan, virtually all of the funds will be directed to the communities that have been most devastated by cannabis prohibition,” says Kebra Smith-Bolden, co-director of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, who testified during the hearing in favor of the bill. “For decades, minority and low-income individuals have been disproportionately affected by marijuana enforcement and the war on drugs. It is fitting that they be the ones who benefit from cannabis tax revenue following legalization.

“Equity is an important goal in the process of ending the prohibition of marijuana in Connecticut and across the country,” Smith-Bolden adds.

Part of what had previously held back cannabis in Connecticut was the opposition of former Governor Dannel Malloy. His successor, Democrat Ned Lamont, is in favor of recreational cannabis, and predicts the state will approve the measure by the end of 2019.

Most Republicans in the Connecticut Congress oppose adult-use cannabis, but the state has Democrat majorities in both houses.