Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont renewed his case for legalizing recreational marijuana during his State of the State address on Wednesday.
Lawmakers assembled to hear the governor cover a wide array of topics and rattle off improvements that he would like the state to make. He set out a revised $22.3 billion budget for fiscal 2021 in his address, and he also said he hopes to raise tax revenue by establishing a regulatory framework for adult-use cannabis sales beginning in 2022.
Nearby Massachusetts has rolled out a legal recreational marijuana industry and that should spur Connecticut into action, according to Lamont. He said it is just a short drive away, and he predicted that New York will soon follow suit in legalizing marijuana, meaning that people in Connecticut will simply leave the state and move their money elsewhere in order to buy cannabis.
He said a patchwork of marijuana laws in the region is impossible to enforce. “I believe that a coordinated regional regulation is our best chance to protect public health by displacing illicit sellers and replacing them with trusted providers,” said Lamont.
The Connecticut governor met with his counterparts from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in October to discuss a regional consensus for a legal recreational marijuana industry. The plans include setting similar tax rates and common standards on THC content, edibles, and advertising, all designed to help stamp out the region’s thriving black market and improve consumer safety.
Lamont included $300,000 in his fiscal 2021 budget proposal for Connecticut to begin mapping out a regulatory framework to govern a legal recreational cannabis industry that would get underway in 2022. He also reiterated his desire to see criminal convictions for marijuana possession expunged in order to help those convicted gain better access to employment, housing and education.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already vowed that New York will legalize adult-use cannabis in 2020. He said it would bring in $300 million per year in tax revenue and billions more in economic activity.
Rhode Island is also exploring legalization and Vermont’s House Ways and Means Committee has just voted to advance a bill that would license and tax cannabis businesses.
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