The cannabis community came out in force Tuesday to testify against a bill that would ban the gifting of the product. The proposal comes nearly a year after legalization made gifting possible.
“The ability to gift and donate to those in need is an integral part of cannabis legalization and culture,” Erin Doolittle said.
Doolittle is a medical marijuana provider.
“Thousands have attended gifting events over the past several months and have relied on them to get their health needs met and their social needs cared for,” Doolittle said.
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Some of those gifting events like the High Bazaar in Hamden have been shut down.
“It felt really great to be able to openly gift to those individuals and to be able to reach out openly and let them know that service is available to them with that stigma that’s been created over centuries of prohibition,” said Christine Capitan, of Canna Warriors.
The General Law Committee debated a proposed bill that would prevent residents from gifting the cannabis products or face up to a year in prison and $10,000 fine.
“Enacting a law that criminalizes any of the giving of this plant-based medicine to our fellow family members, friends or even complete strangers is unethical, unfathomable, borderline nefarious,” said Duncan Markovich, of Better Ways cannabis store.
“Why should it be criminal to give a vegetable or herbs from my own garden to my community?” Markovich said.
House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora says this was an unintended consequence of the bill being drafted behind closed doors.
“The whole underlying bill I don't support. I think a homegrown model would have been a better way to go. This is not legalization of marijuana. This is truly a commercialized market,” Candelora said.
He says eliminating the gifting provision will help cannabis manufacturers and the state.
“Now that state has a vested interest in taxation so every transaction they’re going to want to tax,” Candelora said.
He says there should be a way to make cannabis more affordable for medical patients.
“It’s important to be able to gift cannabis because not everybody has the financial stability that they need in order to enter into the medical program,” Capitan said.
The General Law Committee has until March 22 to forward the bill to the House.