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Residents across Connecticut are one step closer to being able to legally light up a doobie.

For the first time in state history, a bill that would begin planning for the legalization of recreational marijuana cleared a Connecticut General Assembly committee. House Bill 5394, which the Appropriations Committee narrowly approved by a vote of 27–24, calls on a number of state agencies to devise a plan to legalize and regulate marijuana while strengthening substance abuse treatment and prevention by Oct. 1. Two other bills, which would have directly legalized marijuana, have either been rejected or tabled by committees in the 2018 legislative session.

Bill 5394’s tentative nature won over some skeptics, and the proposed legislation will now proceed to the General Assembly for plenary debates. Should the bill become law, the drafted plans for legalization would still require final approval by the Assembly.

“I have some concerns about this moving forward, but this bill deserves an opportunity for further conversation and to get to the fine points,” said state Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, before voting to approve the bill. “This bill provides the opportunity for a group of folks to create a plan that can be discussed in depth.”

state Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, another co-chair of the committee, told the News that the legislation aims to promote extensive discussion between stakeholders and allows the working groups formed by state agencies to hash out a refined product. Bills that contain too many details from the outset are likely to run into stiffer opposition, she said, especially if there have not been adequate discussion and input from community groups.

Walker also emphasized that the final plan will legalize pot only for people who are at least 21 years old and will impose

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