Marijuana Legalization Study Bill Heads To House
HARTFORD, CT —A bill that would begin planning for the legalization of recreational marijuana in Connecticut was sent to the House Thursday after narrowly passing the Appropriations Committee by a 27-24 vote.
Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, a strong proponent of legalization, conceded that the bill, HB 5394, was a “work in progress.” But Candelaria said with states all around Connecticut either already legalizing or moving to legalize marijuana, that Connecticut “needs to have a plan when, not if, this (legalization) happens.”
Rep. Pam Staneski, R-Milford, voted against the bill. She said she was opposed because the bill mandates that a plan be developed to have a regulating body oversee legalization.
“We don’t have the money for it,” Staneski said.
Appropriations Committee Co-Chair Toni Walker, D-New Haven, another proponent of legalization, pointed out that the fiscal note for the bill states that the Office of Policy and Management has sufficient resources to regulate.
“The bill, which requires the Office of Policy and Management to develop a plan to legalize and regulate the retail sale of marijuana, has no fiscal impact. It is anticipated that the agency has the resources to develop this plan,” the Office of Fiscal Analysis note states.
Appropriations Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, said he’s not convinced the bill should win approval, but the House and the Senate deserve “an opportunity to have a conversation.”
As has been the case for the past several years, passionate cases were made by both sides on whether to legalize recreational marijuana during a public hearing held in front of the Appropriations Committee.
An October 2017 poll by Sacred Heart University showed that 71 percent of Connecticut residents support regulating and taxing marijuana for adults. Nearly two-thirds of Connecticut voters, or 63 percent, support making possession of