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Connecticut Clears Nearly 43K Cannabis Convictions

On New Year’s Day, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont stated that 42 964 cannabis convictions had been processed and will be overturned. The number was first announced by Ned Lamont on Dec. 8, 2022 in Gov. Lamont’s initial announcement on Dec. 8, 2022.

The governor expressed how prior cannabis convictions shouldn’t be a detriment to a person’s chance at employment and other opportunities.

“As of this morning, our administration has marked 42,964 cannabis convictions erased, as planned,” Gov. Lamont tweets. “It’s one step forward in ending the War on Drugs and giving our citizens a second chance to achieve their dreams.”

Many different reactions followed, mostly positive, with one Twitter user criticizing the governor as being “weak on crime.”

It fulfills the provisions of legislation signed by Gov. John Kasich over a period of one year. Gov. Lamont approved Senate Bill 1201 in June 22nd, 2021. This effectively made Connecticut 19th to legalize adult cannabis use. 

The governor first proposed to legalize adult-use cannabis to the General Assembly under Senate Bill 888. Similar legislation was also presented by him in Senate Bill 16 in February 2020.

Connecticut residents with minor convictions will have the right to ask courts to seal records. “Convictions for violations of … possession of less than or equal to four ounces of a cannabis-type substance imposed before January 1, 2000, and between October 1, 2015, and June 30, 2021,” the governor’s office said. “Convictions for violations of … possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia for cannabis imposed before July 1, 2021; [and] Convictions for violations … imposed before July 1, 2021, for manufacturing, selling, possessing with intent to sell, or giving or administering to another person a cannabis-type substance and the amount involved was under four ounces or six plants grown inside a person’s home for personal use.”

These types of convictions should not impact an individual’s ability to gain a job, the governor said last month.

“On Jan. 1, thousands of low-level cannabis convictions in Connecticut will be automatically erased due legislation we’ve enacted,” Gov. Lamont tweeted last month. “Especially as employers seek to fill job openings, an old conviction for low-level possession should not hold someone back from their aspirations.”

On Friday, President Joe Biden issued additional pardons to include some people who have been convicted of cannabis and other drugs. 

Connecticut Sales Begin

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection announced that hybrid cannabis license holders can sell adult-use cannabis in dispensaries as early as Monday, January 10.

“For decades, the war on cannabis caused injustices and created disparities while doing little to protect public health and safety,” Lamont said in a press release. “The law that I signed today begins to right some of those wrongs by creating a comprehensive framework for a regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, criminal justice and equity. It will help eliminate the dangerous, unregulated market and support a new and equitable sector of our economy that will create jobs.”

According to state officials, they had received more than 15,000 dispensary license applications before the May 2022 deadline.

As in other states and cities that have legalized cannabis, Connecticut’s new law contained a significant social justice component, with provisions to award the first retail licenses to individuals from areas most adversely affected by long standing drug policies, and to clear the records of those with certain marijuana-related convictions.