Looking At Connecticut’s Recently Legalized Adult-Use Cannabis Program
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont recently signed legislation that legalizes and aims to safely regulate adult use of cannabis in the state. Continuing the forward momentum for legal cannabis in the U.S., the legislation contains progressive reform that addresses areas such as criminal justice, equity, public health, public safety, and strong deterrents for underage use.
“For decades, the war on cannabis caused injustices and created disparities while doing little to protect public health and safety.” – Gov. Ned Lamont
Creating a comprehensive framework within a newly-regulated cannabis market that prioritizes these areas will ultimately help to address potential issues – while supporting a new job-creating sector of the Constitution State’s economy.
The Goals of Responsible & Equitable Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation in Connecticut
Connecticut will effectively modernize its laws and hope to stay economically competitive by allowing adults to possess cannabis, regulate sales and cannabis advertising content, train its police force in the latest techniques of detecting and preventing impaired driving, and expunge the criminal records of people with certain eligible cannabis convictions.
- By replacing an unregulated market with a regulated and taxed system full of licensed cultivators, retailers, and manufacturers – Connecticut will be able to invest the bulk of tax revenues into disproportionately impacted communities.
- Along with this, many new cannabis business licenses would be given to social equity applicants who, therefore, could receive technical assistance, workforce training, and start-up funding.
- Connecticut is hoping the bill serves as a national model for regulating adult-use cannabis, while helping the state move forward into an era of social equity.
Highlighting Key Components, Limits, & Protections of CT’s Adult-Use Cannabis Law
Adult Cannabis Possession:
As of July 1st 2021, adults aged 21 and over are allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis or an equivalent amount of product or concentrate on their person, and no more than five ounces at home, or locked in their glove box or car trunk.
Retail Cannabis Sales:
- Retail sales will aim to become fully regulated in Connecticut by the end of 2022.
- Manufacturing, sales, and cultivation will require a license given by the state.
- Products containing delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10-THC are also considered cannabis and may only be sold by licensed retailers in the state.
- All adults over 21 will be permitted up to six cannabis plants (three mature, three immature) for indoor cultivation beginning July 1st, 2023.
- The law includes specific guidelines for growing and keeping plants secure.
Expungement of Lower-Level Cannabis Convictions:
- Some cannabis-related convictions that occurred between January 1, 2000 and October 1, 2015 will be automatically erased under the new law.
- For special cases, those looking to erase their cannabis-related convictions that occurred outside of that period will require further petitioning.
Structure & Allocation of Connecticut’s Cannabis Tax:
A new retail sale tax structure emerges from the bill which includes new sources of revenue for municipalities:
- A 3% municipal sales tax directed to the town or city where the specific sale occurred.
- A 6.35% sales tax
- A tax based on the THC content of the products which is 2.75 cents/milligram of THC for edibles, 0.625 cents for cannabis flower, and 0.9 cents for all other types of product.
From this tax base, the state of Connecticut will average about a 4% lower rate than New York and a similar amount as the state of Massachusetts.
Impaired Driving & Underage Cannabis Use Prevention:
The legislation implements a strong framework of preventing access to cannabis by minors in the same context as alcohol:
- Selling or providing cannabis to a person under 21 years old will result in a Class A misdemeanor
- Individuals allowing someone under 21 years of age to loiter in a cannabis store will receive a $1,000 fine as a first offense with future subsequent offenses, or in other words, a Class B misdemeanor.
- Class D misdemeanors will be issued to persons under the age of 21 that lie about their age or use a fake ID attempting to buy cannabis.
The law will also aim to strengthen Connecticut’s impaired driving statutes by requiring police to be trained in an Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE).
Product Safety & Cannabis Advertising:
This legislation implements strong standards for cannabis products and cannabis advertising:
- Cannabis products will have to be lab tested and are required to have strict packaging and labeling standards.
- Cannabis edibles will be limited to 5mg of THC per serving while most other products are also subject to potency caps.
- Child-safe packing will be implemented and product types should not be “appealing” to children.
- Cannabis advertising will not be shown on television, radio, internet, print or billboards unless certain conditions are met.
- Cannabis advertising is restricted within 500 feet of schools.
Adult-Use Cannabis Industry Employment in CT:
Here are some key elements concerning employment in Connecticut’s developing adult-use cannabis industry:
- Employers will be able to continue to enforce drug-free workplaces within the legislation.
- The legislation also respects the need for employers to maintain workplace safety in compliance with federal law.
- Employers within certain industries (healthcare and manufacturing) will be considered exempt from the employment provisions of the legislation.
Interested in finding out more about Connecticut’s recently legalized adult-use cannabis program? Visit this resource via CT.gov containing all the facts on the new law.