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Connecticut Lawmakers Propose Changes to Recreational Pot Program

Although legal marijuana sales are only a few weeks old in Connecticut, lawmakers are currently considering changes to the law.

CTPost reports that the opening days of the state’s legislative session have proposed a slate of new regulations over the cannabis program, including “changes to how the state issues cannabis licenses to efforts to further decriminalize the drug and increase safety labeling requirements.” 

The proposals, the outlet noted, “have varying chances of successfully becoming law.”

CTPost provides more details on Connecticut legislators’ proposals. 

“House Majority Leader Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, is proposing changes to the application fees for various cannabis licenses. An applicant who submits more applications would pay more than a flat fee. Instead of being charged a flat rate, the application fees will be charged on a sliding scale. This proposal addresses the issue of many applicants paying hundreds of thousands in application fees to increase their chance of winning licenses through the lottery. The fees for application vary according to the type of license and whether or not an applicant is eligible for social equity status. Application fees are lower for applicants with social equity status than those who do not qualify. Rojas introduced another bill to allow cannabis business owners to deduct some expenses from their state tax returns. In recent years, several states have allowed cannabis businesses to deduct expenses from their state taxes. This is despite the fact that marijuana remains federally banned. Supporters of the proposal said it would enable operators in the marijuana industry to be treated the same as most other businesses, which can write off expenses such as rent, salaries and wages, and advertising costs on their state tax returns.”

According to CTPost, a legislative committee “plans to look at further regulation of cannabis, whether to provide hemp farmers with an expedited pathway to grow recreational cannabis, and consider recommendations from the Social Equity Council, which is responsible for ensuring equity in Connecticut’s legal cannabis market.”

Connecticut’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales was initiated last week by seven medical marijuana dispensaries. 

The state’s Democratic governor, Ned Lamont, signed a bill in 2021 that legalized recreational pot for adults in Connecticut. 

“That’s why I introduced a bill and worked hard with our partners in the legislature and other stakeholders to create a comprehensive framework for a securely regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, social justice, and equity. It will help eliminate the dangerous unregulated market and support a new, growing sector of our economy which will create jobs,” Lamont said after signing the bill into law. “By allowing adults to possess cannabis, regulating its sale and content, training police officers in the latest techniques of detecting and preventing impaired driving, and expunging the criminal records of people with certain cannabis crimes, we’re not only effectively modernizing our laws and addressing inequities, we’re keeping Connecticut economically competitive with our neighboring states.” 

Lamont last month announced that around 44,000 Connecticutans would see their marijuana convictions erased at the beginning of next year.

“On January 1, thousands of people in Connecticut will have low-level cannabis convictions automatically erased due to the cannabis legalization bill we enacted last year,” Lamont said in a statement at the time. “Especially as Connecticut employers seek to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings, an old conviction for low-level cannabis possession should not hold someone back from pursuing their career, housing, professional, and educational aspirations.”

Lamont was elected to a second term in November’s election.