Recreational Marijuana Passes Judiciary Committee

Democrats on the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee have approved a bill that could ultimately legalize the recreational use of marijuana for those 21 years and older.

The committee voted Monday on legislation outlining out how marijuana would be legalized. The bill lays out regulations which include a legal age of 21 for purchase, all transactions requiring a scanned ID, maximum possession of 1.5 ounces, and no home growing.

The bill also allows people who were previously convicted of marijuana possession to petition the courts to have their records erased.

Supporters say it's about time that Connecticut not just decriminalizes, but fully regulate cannabis and its sale in the state.

Nearly every Democrat supports legalization, not just fore the revenue it could bring in, but also as a way for the state to respond to how the war on drugs led to so many African-Americans being put in prison for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

“These laws were not appropriate at the time when they were permitted and now we’re sixty years into this prohibition and communities have been destroyed, neighborhoods have been destroyed for this unnecessary racist law that they put on the books after sixty years," sand Sen. Doug McCroy (D - Hartford).

Every Republican was opposed to the marijuana measure. They fear the unintended consequences, especially the possible impact on children.

“I would just ask my colleagues to think about the children because at the end of the day, adults can travel to Massachusetts, they can travel to New York, but let’s protect our youth for a little while longer. Let’s see what the studies show over time," Rep. Tom O'Dea (R-New Canaan) said.

The Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on the bill later in the session, and it would then require passage by both the House and the Senate.

This is one of several bills moving through the legislative process this year. Advocates expect the pieces will eventually be included in one bill for consideration by lawmakers.

The Judiciary Committee also voted Monday on legislation clarifying employers don't have to allow workers to possess, smoke or consume marijuana products, or perform their duties under the influence of cannabis. Another bill addresses driving under the influence.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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