Gov. Ned Lamont supported it during his campaign. Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz said the issue would be pursued in the 2019 legislative session. And Rep. Josh Elliott has been pursuing this measure for years.
Now, Connecticut could become the 11th state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow for the regulation of the recreational use of marijuana.
Elliott, (D – Hamden), was one of the earliest supporters of the issue, backing it in recent years, but with closely divided Democrats and Republicans, the issue never took hold. Now that Democrats have gained sizeable majorities in the House and Senate, the issue could gain traction in 2019.
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“I think there is a strong possibility that it will pass,” Elliott predicted. “I think there a few hinge issues involving marijuana that it will potentially slow the process down. Are you going to be allowed to grow at home, or not? Have third party distribution or not?”
Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz said Wednesday that if marijuana becomes legal in Connecticut, then it will not become the wild west when it comes to its reach and availability.
“As long as I’m Speaker, you’re not going to see retail marijuana stores on the corners of the cities of Hartford and New Britain and Berlin and have them pop up wherever you want to buy it,” Rep. Aresimowicz, (D – Berlin), said. “And if we legalize it, and it’s still an if, it’s not going to be that structure. It’s going to be highly regulated.”
Elliott agrees with that approach, saying, “I think we need to have as much input as possible. We want to make sure we’re doing this right for a lot of reasons. We want to make sure that people who are concerned about children getting their hands on the drug are ensuring that their fears are alleviated.”
Massachusetts initiated sales of marijuana in November of 2018, and saw long lines at the two locations in Leicester and Northamption. The state has a strict regulatory structure which makes it more difficult than simply applying for a permit and starting sales. There is a state commission that approves licenses for sales, the Department of Public Health then must approve sales, and all products have to be in child proof packaging that is also not marketed to children.
“What I want to ensure the people of the State of Connecticut is if they’re going to buy those products that they can do so in a way so that it’s regulated, there’s knowledgeable people ensuring that we’re not saturating the market," Aresimonwicz said.
Rep. Vincent Candelora, a Republican from North Branford, anticipated that no Republicans in the House would vote for any marijuana measure. He said there are too many unknowns, and concerns, especially when it comes to the possibility of home-grown products.
“There is a struggle between homegrown and a regulatory market and quite frankly the real struggle comes in who makes the money off of the product,” he said.