April 20 is a day recognized by some as World Weed Day. To mark the occasion, dozens of cannabis advocates from the group CT CannaWarriors gathered outside the State Capitol Wednesday.
Waving flags and holding signs, they stood alongside the curb adjacent to Capitol Avenue. They were trying to draw attention to various things they would like to see changed as the state fine tunes the cannabis law.
Recreational cannabis was legalized last July but people gathering Wednesday want less restrictions in the law. They want less expensive licensing fees, and they want the state to lower the limit on allowable mold in medical marijuana.
“It’s not healthy and in Connecticut, the medical program is run by the Department of Consumer Protection and so if they are doing that, who are they protecting?” said Terry Hopper of Hamden.
They're also calling for all those who are incarcerated for non-violent cannabis offenses to be released. Topping their list, though, is wanting to see House Bill 5329 shot down. This is the bill that places restrictions on gifting recreational cannabis freely.
“We would like to see something along the lines of a craft beer festival and have craft cannabis festivals,” said Hopper.
Some people at the rally said the bill angers them.
“I was offended,” said Avery Pessa of Meriden. “I can give you a six pack if I don’t know you but I can’t give you a joint if I don’t know you without facing some form of fine.”
But lawmakers say that isn’t necessarily the case.
“If you want to host a party and bake brownies with cannabis in them for your friends and give them away at the book club reading, you can do that,” said State Representative Mike D’Agostino.
D’Agostino supports the bill and says the bill does not place an outright ban on gifting.
“The bill has explicit language that says a gift of cannabis between individuals in a social relationship, that’s not part of a commercial transaction is legal,” D’Agostino said.
What is banned are what lawmakers call bazaars, where if you buy another product you get cannabis for free.
“We want to make sure that [people] are not skirting the market place,” said co-sponsor of the bill, Representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw.
Meanwhile outside the capitol, the CT CannaWarriors were openly enjoying the cannabis culture while trying to amplify their message.
“This free weed tastes like freedom,” announced Christina Capitan of East Windsor, while speaking into a bull horn directed toward the capitol building.
As for the bill, it has already passed out of the general law committee. The next step is for a vote in the house, which D’Agostino said will likely not come for at least another week.
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