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Recreational pot bill back on track after lawmakers reconcile veto threat from Gov. Lamont

Gov. Lamont still supports making recreational cannabis legal, but the last-minute amendment from the senate derailed the bill.

HARTFORD, Conn — Connecticut’s landmark marijuana bill took one step forward, and then two steps back. After passing the senate for a second time, the Governor announced he would veto the bill in its current form. 

Gov. Lamont still supports making recreational cannabis legal, but the last-minute amendment from the senate derailed the bill. So, on Wednesday, legislators spent all night getting the train back on the tracks. 

"There were a couple of curveballs that came in at the very last moment," said Gov. Lamont. 

Gov. Lamont's concern was that the amendment wasn't equitable. 

"If a rich suburban kid is selling pot outside a high Scholl and he gets busted, all of sudden he’s at the front of the line to get a license that didn’t seem to make much sense to me?" said Lamont.

The amendment said that anyone convicted of a low-level marijuana crime could jump to the front of the line to get a license to grow and sell it. The Governor’s idea of equity is that it's more geographically based. The original bill giving priority entry into the industry to those in communities most impacted by the war on drugs. 

Democrats folded their cards and are now poised to vote on the original bill. 

"When the Governor said he’s going to veto it. I think that was sort of the end of the conversation for a lot of people," remarked House Speaker Matt Ritter. That means, if passed, it would head back to the Senate for a third vote. 

"We want to go back and live up to the deal that we had with the Governor," said Majority Leader Jason Rojas.

For many Republicans, marijuana remains a non-starter. Republicans have concerns about societal ills like addiction, the effect of THC on the developing brain, and public safety implications. 

"I think what the takeaway is, is that we have certain camps that are fighting for who gets to profit off of marijuana and we’ve moved away from a pure discussion of legalization," explained House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford).

Outside the Capitol’s marble walls — the marijuana debate continues in the community. Christina Capitan supports full legalization. She’s a licensed medical user but was charged with a marijuana crime just days before the medical law took effect. 

"I really do believe that people have had many opportunities and a big portion of their potential future stolen from them. People have suffered, families have suffered, communities have suffered, and this is the time to really take a look at providing equity to those individuals," Captain said.

There are inner-city faith leaders like Carl McCluster who said communities are being sold a false bill of goods. 

"The black market does not go away. The black market gets meaner and fiercer. Connecticut is the Constitution state. We are leaders, not followers. Do we want to be like New York City? Do we want to be like Boston?" said Rev. McCluster.

Depending on who you talk to debate could either go on all night or be wrapped up in several hours. Gov. Lamont telling me he wants a bill on his desk by the end of the week.

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