After a special legislative session, the Connecticut Senate passed An Act Concerning Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis on June 17, 2021, following the Connecticut House’s passage of the bill on June 16, 2021. Governor Ned Lamont has indicated that he intends to sign the bill into law. The law was previously passed by the Connecticut Senate but was filibustered in the Connecticut House, thereby necessitating the special session. The new law will legalize adult-use cannabis for adults 21 and over and provides for the licensure of cultivators, retailers, manufacturers, and delivery services under the supervision of the Department of Consumer Protection. Like other Northeast states, Connecticut’s law puts a heavy emphasis on social equity, requiring half of all licenses to go to social equity applicants. Further, the state will provide assistance to these applicants in getting their business started. Additional highlights include:
- Adults 21 and over may possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis starting July 1, 2021, and may store up to 5 ounces in their residence or vehicle.
- Automatic expungement of convictions for possession of under four ounces of cannabis. However, automatic expungement will not begin until 2023, and will apply only to convictions between January 1, 2000 and September 15, 2015, with others needing to petition to have their convictions expunged.
- Adults 21 and over may grow up to three mature and three immature plants starting July 1, 2023. Medical patients 18 and over may begin growing plants October 1, 2021.
- Employers may not take adverse action against workers for positive cannabis metabolite tests.
- The smell of cannabis is no longer probable cause to stop and search individuals. Adults between 18 and 20 face a civil fine for possession. Minors would be subject to a written warning for their first two offenses, but can face more severe penalties for subsequent offenses.
- Localities may prohibit cannabis businesses.
- Flower will be capped at 30% THC on a dry-weight basis, whereas all other products will be capped at 60% on a dry-weight basis. The 60% THC cap on other cannabis products does not apply to pre-filled cartridges for electronic cannabis delivery systems.
- Cannabis sales will be subject to a THC-based excise tax, a 3% municipal tax, and Connecticut’s state sales tax. At first, the state-based taxes will go towards Connecticut’s general fund, but beginning June 30, 2023, 60% of tax revenue will go towards the Social Equity and Innovation Fund. That amount will gradually increase from 2026 to 2028.
- Social equity applicants will pay only 50% of the standard application fee for licenses, while medicinal dispensaries can pay $1 million in order to operate as a hybrid dispensary.
House Majority Leader Jason Rojas aims to have legal sales begin in May 2022.