A bill legalizing marijuana before the General Assembly’s judiciary committee would create a network of marijuana lounges, encourage small business development and regulate the sale of pot through a new state Liquor and Marijuana Control Commission.

The bill would also legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and allow cultivation of as many as six marijuana plants per adult. Marijuana could be purchased by customers age 21 and over through a state-regulated dispensary.

Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney supports the legislation and said Monday it is designed to encourage small business development and promote diversity.

In testimony, Looney said the Department of Consumer Protection would be required to adopt policies that would encourage business applications from communities that “have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition.”

The application fee for marijuana cultivation, for example, would not be excessive and would vary based on the size of a facility or the number of plants. Those who have drug-related infractions or misdemeanors would be able to obtain business licenses.

“It is time we take the rational, commonsense approach to marijuana, as we did with alcohol: regulating and taxing it,” Looney wrote. “We need to ensure that Connecticut is not left behind as our neighbors move forward with commonsense marijuana policy.”

In July, marijuana will be available for adult purchase in Massachusetts, and Connecticut residents will be able to drive across the border and return with cannabis. Possession of less than a half-ounce in Connecticut is punishable by civil fines; possession of a half-ounce or more is a misdemeanor.

“I’ve long been a proponent of the legalization of marijuana but I think the urgency is such now that we have to act, we have to act before the state of Massachusetts regulates the possession or sale of marijuana in

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