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Connecticut Takes First Steps Toward Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

A bill that would legalize recreational marijuana cleared its first hurdle Tuesday when the judiciary committee approved it by a narrow margin.

“I am a proponent of legalizing cannabis,” Sen. Gary Winfield (D-New Haven) said.

Winfield said he supports both Gov. Ned Lamont’s bill and another one to legalize marijuana. The judiciary committee passed Lamont’s bill by just six votes. Three Democrats voted against the measure.

“Beginning from July 1, 2021, through January 1, 2024, only the existing medical establishments and social equity applicants can open up cannabis establishments,” Rep. Steve Stafstrom (D-Bridgeport) said.

Stafstrom, who co-chairs the committee, said lawmakers have been focused on making sure individuals from communities impacted by the war on drugs have an opportunity to get into the industry.

But not all lawmakers agreed with the approach.

“We know you violated the law, but we’re going to reward you and we’re going to take off 50% of the fees,” Sen. Dan Champagne (R-Vernon) said.

Lawmakers also expressed concern that those younger than 21 years old would get their hands on the drug.

“I would just ask that we think about the kids and how we work harder at preventing the increased access for the children,” Rep. Tom O’Dea (R-Ridgefield) said. [Read more at NBC Connecticut]

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