Connecticut lawmakers approach marijuana legalization for additional revenue
Connecticut lawmakers are once again considering legislation that could legalize recreational marijuana in the state. While CT successfully decriminalized marijuana in possession in 2011, lawmakers continue to be faced with obstacles when it comes to full adult recreational use. Gov. Ned Lamont hopes to legalize cannabis and tax the sales of marijuana for recreational use.
Under the proposed legislation, marijuana would be taxed as follows: $1.25 per gram, trimmed marijuana strains at 50 cents per gram, and wet marijuana at 28 cents per gram. The standard sales tax of 6.35% would still apply to recreational marijuana transactions, along with an additional three percent surcharge. Revenue generated from the surcharge would be used to share with local municipalities.
The state’s move to legalize is part of a larger effort to increase tax revenue. Lamont is currently working with neighboring states and tribal partners to introduce sports betting, internet gaming, and legalized marijuana. Currently, states surround CT permit gambling and recreational marijuana. This implies that revenues that CT could be collecting are being collected by out-of-state and underground markets.
The proposed legislation would do more than just legalize recreational marijuana. On top of erasing criminal convictions for possession of less than four ounces, the bill would limit marketing to children, increase trained drug recognition experts in police departments, and update CT’s clean air act to include smoking and vaping marijuana within secondhand smoke restrictions. Lamont hopes that a bill that includes these provisions will gain bipartisan support.
However, many remain skeptical of legalizing marijuana in CT. While many lawmakers are lured by the increased revenue legalization would bring to the state, they become hesitant when they study the details more closely. Pro-commercialization advocates estimate CT could bring in more than $170 million in its first year of legalization. State Republicans believe that there are other ways to bring in additional revenue that will not put the future of their children at risk.