HARTFORD, Conn. — Unable to pass a marijuana legalization bill last week during the legislature's normal session, a special one will begin today.
The proposed bill, which would legalize recreational marijuana for anyone over the age of 21, sparked controversy in the House of Representatives.
House Speaker Matt Ritter said last week that there would not have been enough time for lawmakers to vote on the bill before the end of the legislative session, which ended at midnight last Wednesday.
Ritter said Republicans had planned to filibuster, leading to the special session.
“They could've given us a vote. We offered them 16 hours and all 30 bills they wanted to call. Let me repeat that. They had 30 bills and all 30 bills they wanted to call, we offered to do 30 bills, none of ours, all we asked for was a vote,” he said.
Ritter said he is confident they will have enough votes to pass the bill.
However, House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora said he has been saying for days that lawmakers did not have enough time to give the nearly 300-page bill the discussion it deserved.
“Moving forward I think there needs to be a little more conversation and dialogue. But I'm a little disappointed that Democrats seem to think that going into special session is going to be retribution for Republicans,” he said.
Due to special session rules, the Senate will have to vote on it again before the House.
Democrats say the bill levels the playing field with surrounding states. "I think most people who choose to consume cannabis would prefer to do it in a legal way rather than what we have now which is unregulated," said Leader Rojas.
Here’s some of what the bill would do:
- Possession would become legal July 1st.
- Past criminal convictions would be erased.
- Home growing would kick in in 2023.
- Limits would be placed on marijuana marketing.
The bill keeps the right for cities and towns to prohibit retail pot shops and marijuana would still be banned at the workplace and at state parks and hotels. Jose Lugo of Hartford said, "I have no problem with recreational marijuana users. I have more of an issue with alcoholism. I’ve seen alcoholism destroy more lives and more families."
The Associated Press reported that some remaining budget bills and possibly some other bills that didn’t survive in the first round, including Gov. Ned Lamont's proposed regional Transportation and Climate Initiative Program that Republicans consider to be a gas tax, will be voted on.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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