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Cannabis bill could go to special session

The bill narrowly passed the senate and now will need to pass the house of representatives

HARTFORD, Conn. — It’s the last evening of the legislative session but the hotly contentious bill to legalize marijuana may spill over into an extended special session. Speaker of the House Matt Ritter told FOX61 he’s not ruling out a vote Wednesday night, but it will most likely be sometime in the next week.

The Hartford Courant and the Associated Press have reported that Ritter and Democratic leaders are planning on calling a special session to vote on the bill. 

All eyes are on Connecticut’s House of Representatives where Republicans are threatening to extend the debate on the legal weed bill all night if it’s called for a vote. 

The bill narrowly passed the senate. House Minority Leader Rep. Vincent Candelora said, "This is a 300-page document that was dropped in our laps three days ago."

Majority Leader Rep. Jason Rojas said, "The bill is largely in the form that it was when it was proposed, and it's gone through two committees with an opportunity for both Republicans and Democrats to comment on it.

In the 297-page bill — Republicans say they uncovered and removed a provision that would have given special treatment to an entity yet to be named to grow marijuana. They would have been allowed to bypass the license lottery system. 

"To see a rat of that magnitude be put into that bill, it calls into question who was in that room and who was having those discussions," explained Rep. Candelora.

The Lamont administration wrote most of the bill, but they say not that line. Max Reiss, Communication Director for Gov. Ned Lamont said, “The Governor demanded that provision be removed from the cannabis legislation as it was not consistent with the equity provisions which had been discussed with legislators, and the section was subsequently removed during debate on the Senate floor.”

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."

If a vote on marijuana doesn’t come Wednesday during the regular session lawmakers can take it up in a special session, but it would have to go back to the senate to get voted on again, where it was already passed by a razor-thin 19-17 vote.

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